Friday, October 8, 2010, 11:26 p.m.
By Joe Beninati
Reports were filtering in about how much people believed the Hurricanes, the Lightning and the Thrashers have improved and tonight the guys from Atlanta proved the point.
Their work rate was very high right from the opening face-off. Their defensive play was the best the Capitals have seen from them in a long time. Put those two elements together with timely goal scoring and it all added up to the Thrashers ending their eight game losing streak to Washington Capitals.
The Ondrej Pavelec incident was unnerving to say the least. Rarely, if ever, in my broadcast career have I been faced with the difficult challenge of describing and detailing the collapse of an athlete.
My prayers go out to him for speedy and safe recovery.
The last word we received was that he was alert and preliminary tests were negative.
As for the game, the Caps were not able to match the Thrashers in the hustle department. Were it not for above average net minding from Michal Neuvirth in the 2nd period, the game could have been far out of reach.
Neuvirth made outstanding saves on Nik Antropov, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd, showing excellent positioning and reflexes.
Semyon Varlamov was on the trip to Atlanta and is hoping to participate in a full practice early next week but goaltending was not the issue tonight. Neuvirth was very good.
The prettiest goal of the evening was the Capitals' first one. It was an exquisite passing play from Alex Semin to Tomas Fleischmann that was slam dunked by Brooks Laich. The combination on Johnny Oduya and Zach Bogosian did a fine job of bottling up the Capitals big line. Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble teamed up for a nice two on one finish in the third period but aside from that, the great 8 was kept to the outside and did not present too much of a scoring threat.
I'm still not sure I agree with the call on Mike Green that led to the Evander Kane penalty shot goal. From what I can tell, Green swatted at the puck in the crease and never appeared to close his hand and grasp the puck from my vantage point.
Give Atlanta credit though, they blocked a ton of shots and showed great desire to do that. Their hustle and hard work was the difference tonight. The Capitals will have to summon the same inspiration to overcome the Devils on Saturday. See you on CSN.