I'm just a glutton for punishment for doing these, but it's fun for all involved so I'll do as many of these as possible.
The Thrashers welcome the New York Rangers into town tonight. The Rangers currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind Pittsburgh and three behind Carolina.
Against the Rangers this season, the Thrashers are 1-2. Let's hope they can get back to .500 in some aspect and even the season series. If the Thrashers win out, they would finish 38-38-6!
Grasping at straws? Yeah I know, but what else can I do at this point except look for bright spots and silver linings?
We're just minutes away from the opening draw. This is one the Rangers must absolutely win if they want to sit a little more comfortably in the playoff picture.
For the Thrashers, it's all about gaining experience and working toward next season. At 7-3 in their last ten games, signs are pointing to a much improved 2009-2010 season….hopefully.
The Rangers are not coming with their “A” lineup tonight. Henrik Lundqvist will be riding the pine and Stephen Valiquette will get the nod. Valiquette is 2-1 lifetime against the Thrashers with a 2.34 GAA and a .921 save percentage. It's not Niittymaki numbers against Atlanta, but respectable nonetheless.
In net for the Thrashers will be Kari Lehtonen. Here's to hoping he has a better showing than the other night in Montreal.
New coach John Tortorella is 8-4-1 since taking over the coaching duties.
18:59 – First chance in the game comes by Eric Perrin on a rebound attempt, but Valiquette was equal to the task.
18:30 – Lehtonen faces his first shot and turns it aside easily. Both goalies are in the game early and the pace is pretty quick.
17:52 – Rangers are turning the puck over like it's going out of style and Valiquette is forced to come up with two huge saves on Kozlov to keep the game scoreless.
17:42 – Thrashers go on the powerplay after Paul Mara sits down for two minutes for high sticking.
17:10 – Nothing doing on this attempt as Brian Little rips down Marc Staal. We'll have 1:29 of 4-on-4 hockey.
16:54 – Controversy strikes early! Bogosian fires a tricky backhander on net off the rush and Todd White slams it home, biut the referee had blown it dead for some unknown reason. If I can see the loose puck, how can the ref not? Sign me up and I'll go jump out on the ice and ref some games.
16:14 – Kovalchuk heads to the box for interference. The refs are giving their lungs a solid workout with all this blowing going on.
15:56 – Hainsey launches a clearing attempt into the stratosphere and sits down for two minutes. There's three Thrashers in the box right now….
15:34 – Rangers take a too many men on the ice penalty. This is getting out of hand.
15:08 – Chris Drury bats one out of mid-air and into the back of the net behind Lehtonen, but will it count? Looked like he hit it with a high stick to me. Smart money is on no goal.
After a lengthy review the call is…… NO GOAL!!!!
13:10 – All penaltes are off the board. Maybe now we can get back to playing some 5-on-5 hockey for longer than six seconds? If this pace keeps up, my fingers will be bleeding by the first intermission.
10:00 – Thrashers are clearly going to be pounding the crease all night long. Not a bad strategy against a goalie who has a collection of splinters in his rear end.
4:59 – Sean “sloppy seconds” Avery crashes the net and throws White into Lehtonen. As a result, Lehtonen goes into the back of the net while a scramble ensues at the top of the crease. Avery will do some time in the box, but Lehtonen was very slow to get up.
3:58 – Enstrom beautifully breaks up a 2-on-1 shorthanded break by the Rangers. Lehtonen appears to be fine and has remained in the game.
2:59 – Penalty over and the Rangers had the better chances.
1:26 – 1-0 Rangers – Zherdev picks up a loose puck in the slot off a blocked shot attempted by Mara and rips it past Lehtonen to break the ice on the scoreboard.
:45 – Reasoner gets robbed by Valiquette from close range. The backup is looking solid early in this game.
:02 – Little attempts a backhander while spinning and Valiquette gets the right pad on it to keep the lead heading to the first intermission.
End Of Period 1
Overall, not a bad period despite the early deficit. The Thrashers outshot the Rangers 14-10 and actually killed two of the three powerplays for the Rangers. Not bad for the worst penalty killing team in the league.
A guy I would keep an eye on in this game would be Bogosian. He's been all over the ice tonight making nice defensive plays and he had a couple of close calls in the offensive end as well. He's got the jump early on.
Lehtonen is out and will not return…great.
18:54 – Perrin trots off to the box for holding a stick. Bring out the penalty killing unit.
18:00 – Enstrom draws a penalty with a some nifty skating in the corner. Callahan heads to the box for two minutes for tripping.
15:58 - The Thrasher powerplay comes to a close with White whacking away on Valiquette, but the puck stays out of the net somehow.
13:32 – 1-1Tie! – Kozlov picks up a loose puck in the high slot off a failed pass attempt and launches a laser to the shelf over Valiquette's glove to tie it up. Peverley and Enstrom get the assists. The goal is Kozlov's 23rd of the season.
13:08 – Talk about a momentum killer. The Thrashers will be on the PK yet again just seconds after the goal. Oystrick hauled down Naslund in front with Moose in the corner.
11:32 – Reasoner attempts to bat a puck out of the air to clear the zone and only catches Mara in the face. A double-minor is called as Mara heads right to the dressing room.This sounds familiar.
10:42 – Slashing call against Naslund will cut two minutes out of this four-minute advantage. These refs are being very liberal with the whistles tonight.
10:04 – Moose comes up with a big save on a one-timer in the slot by Morris on a nice feed by Nik Antropuff.
9:18 – Kozlov heads off to keep the penalty box bench warm after getting an elbow up high on Callahan, who is shaken up on the play.
8:56 – 2-1 Rangers – Drury unloads a one-timer from the left faceoff circle on the 4-on-3 powerplay. The puck goes off Antropuff's skate and in. No review needed. It's Puff's 300th career point.
7:31 – 3-1 Rangers – The Thrashers get caught in a bad change and Drury comes into the zone on the near side and rips a cannon drive past Moose low to the stick side. It's another powerplay goal…. This is eerily similar to the Habs game the other night isn't it?
4:14 – Moose forced to make another solid save. The wheels are coming off the wagon in this one. If they can get one of those goals back by the end of the period, the third should be fun to watch.
2:01 – 4-1 Rangers – Moose makes a nice save on Drury and holds onto the post to prevent the puck from squirting through to no avail. Naslund follows up on the play and after a couple whacks, the red light comes on. Is this some bizzaro world I'm living in?
1:20 – Exelby and Dubinsky head to the locker rooms early for roughing after a scuffle in front of Moose.
:20- 4-2 Rangers – White hits Kovalchuk in stride in the neutral zone and Kovalchuk does the rest. He dances around a defender and slams home a wrap-around on the flailing Valiquette. Unreal speed, finesse and power by Kovalchuk. The goal is his 39th of the year.
End Of Period 2
Well this awful period comes to an end, but Kovalchuk's heroics late in the period have made the third period worth watching. If they Thrashers can get a quick one, will the Rangers fold it up and play scared? Time will tell.
The Thrashers were outshot 10-7 in the period, but hold a 2
1-20 edge overall. If Moose can lock it down in the third, the Thrashers could come back for sure.
Word on Lehtonen is….upper body injury. Shocking, I know.
Congratulations are in order for Valiquette, who is going to be a father in June. He and his wife are expecting their first child.
16:30 – 4-3 Rangers – Colby Armstrong banks one in off of Valiquette from behind the net and we have a on-goal game on our hands here.
15:55 – Kovalchuk sent to the box after he and Avery came together at center ice. Rangers get their ninth powerplay of the game.
14:40 – Another penalty on the Thrashers that results in 46 seconds of 5-on-3 play. A word of advice to the boys in blue. STOP TAKING PENALTIES!!! YOU KNOW YOUR PK IS AWFUL!!
12:40 – Penalties are all over. Very solid kills by the Thrashers, but the Rangers lack of player movement and puck movement was a big help. The Rangers were standing around waiting for something to open up, but it never did.
10:04 – Exelby tees one up from the point that's stopped and covered by Valiquette. Rangers look much different now than when they had a three goal lead and there's plenty of time to tie this game up.
7:00 – Rangers appear to be content to sit back and try and play a trap to lock this one down.
6:50 -4-4 TIE!!!! – Kovalchuk mesmerizes the Ranger defense again. This time he starts to go behind the net and throws it out front to the wide open White who makes no mistake and we are all tied!
4:30 – The Thrashers continue to bring the pressure and the Rangers look sick. Looks like they're trying o just hold on for one valuable point.
1:02 – Avery takes a whack at a loose puck, but the shot gets blocked.
:54 – Moose makes a fantastic save on Callahan in close to preserve the tie. The pace is picking up now.
End of Period 3
Wow, what a period. The effort is there and that big 5-on-3 kill early in the period no doubt sparked the comeback. Time to complete it and send the Rangers home with a devastating loss.
The period comes and goes with a few solid chances from both teams, but the red lights stay dark so we head to a good ole fashioned shootout.
Atlanta elects to shoot first in the shootout.
Bryan Little denied by Valiquette.
Markus Naslund tries to out-wait Moose, but he's having none of it.
Slava Kozlov walks in and gets stoned by Valiquette.
Nik Antropov (really?) is denied by Moose rather easily.
Ilya Kovalchuk moves in and rings iron, but the puck stays out! So close!
Chris Drury for the win…..SAVE MOOSE! We're going extras!
Eric Perrin moves in and Valiquette turns him aside. It's on you again Moose..
Ryan Callahan skates in and drills it off the pipe and it too stays out!
Rich Peverley (again, really?) is no match for Valiquette.
Fredrik Sjostrom stonewalled by Moose! We continue on!!
White goes to the shelf to put the Thrashers up! To quote Bill Raftery: “ONIONS!”
Scott Gomez, to keep the Rangers alive….SAVE BY MOOSE!!! To quote Raftery again: “ONIONS! DOUBLE ORDER!!”
THRASHERS WIN! THRASHERS WIN!
End Of Shootout 1-0 Atlanta
What a game is all I can say. The key moments in the game were Kovalchuk's wrap-around goal with 20 seconds left in the second period and the huge 5-on-3 penalty kill early in the third period.
You could almost see the wind come out of the sails on the Ranger bench. I wouldn't want to be in that lockerroom right about now as I'm sure Tortorella is rather red in the face.
Up next for the Thrashers will be a trip to Ottawa to face the Senators on Saturday night. There won't be a live blog for that game as I've got important plans, but check back Sunday for my thoughts on the game.
About the Author
Written by Casey Shea