Capitals 2, Thrahsers 4
The Capitals wanted to put the sudden exit in the playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens behind them. To bury it and start a new season. The last thing they wanted was a flat start, but that is what they got in Atlanta. The drop their season opener 4-2.
The game started with a dark cloud just 2:25 into the first period. Thrasher goaltender Ondrej Pavelec motioned to the bench during a stoppage at play and then he collapsed right after. That prompted trainers and doctors from both teams to rush to the young goaltender's aid. Pavelec was taken off the ice strapped to a stretcher and rushed to a local hospital. The sudden collapse left the building and players stunned.
Tomas Fleischmann and Michal Neuvirth both knew the goaltender and both mentioned after the game how shocked they were at Pavelec's collapse.
"He is a good friend of mine," Neuvirth said to reporters after the game. "It was really scary. I am just hoping he is alright."
At the time this post was written, Pavelec was conscious and stabilized, talking with doctors and asking about the score of the game. The game would resume following his departure to the hospital.
Brooks Laich would score to start the scoring. He finished off a great tic-tac-toe play where Alex Semin fed Fleischmann cross ice and Flash tap-passed it to Laich open on the other side of the net. From that point on, the Caps seem to have lost that offensive touch and the defense made poor decisions.
The Thrashers would even the score when Evander Kane picked off an errant clearing pass. In the second period, Andrew Ladd would score when the Caps were unable to clear the zone. Then Mike Green would be whistled for pushing the puck out of the crease with his glove. The referee called him for covering the puck in the crease and awarded the Thrashers with a penalty shot. Kane would score his second goal beating Neuvirth five hole.
Mike Knuble would make it interesting in the third as the Caps caught the Thrashers rushing the puck into their zone on a four on one. When the play fizzled out, Alex Ovechkin led a two on one feeding Knuble with the puck. Knuble made no mistake with his shot, going top shelf.
However, another bad defensive slip left Fredrik Modin open in front of the net with the puck. He buried it to bury any chance of a Caps' comeback and seal a season open win for the Thrashers.
Neuvirth played outstanding in his first look in the season. Besides being left out to dry on a couple of defensive slips, he made some very good saves to keep his team close. If a better effort was given in front of him, he could have come away with the win tonight.
"I thought he held us in the game," Head coach Bruce Boudreau said of his goaltender. "He made the big save when he needed to make the big save. I wasn't unhappy with his work at all."
The Capitals power play lacked any serious threat against the Thrashers tonight. They were 0 for 3 with the extra man, and only had one serious chance with Ovechkin shooting a one-timer that Thrasher goaltender Chris Mason swallowed up. The PP once again sputtered to put pucks in net and continues to struggle.
"We didn't play our game at all," Ovechkin quipped at the end of the game. "They just outworked us."
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.
The only good thing about tonight is the Caps will return home to face New Jersey tomorrow night (Saturday). They must show up in their home opener with a much better effort than tonight. Perhaps the quick turnaround will aid in some memory loss from this one.