In a game that began with the frightening collapse of Ondrej Pavelec, the Thrashers played a rough and tumble style of hockey that shut down the usually potent Capitals offense. Pavelec collapsed a couple of minutes into the first period while a face-off was in the process of getting set up in the Capitals' end of the ice, totally without warning. After a fifteen minute delay, Chris Mason replaced Pavelec in net.
The Capitals' first goal was a defensive breakdown that was completely excusable, with a goal from Brooks Laich that was slid behind Chris Mason on a communication/defensive breakdown that came from the players worrying more about Pavelec's situation than about the game itself. It's a miracle that the team could continue to play, considering that the fans in the stands were worried and distracted regarding Pavs; God knows how the players concentrated.
The Thrashers tied it up on a hard driving goal via Evander Kane, and Rich Peverley apparently scored the go-ahead goal shortly before the end of the first period, but the refs deemed interference on a phantom trip that may or may not have happened to John Erskine, so the goal was recalled. Andrew Ladd scored to start the second period, Kane scored again on a penalty shot courtesy of a Caps player closing his hand on the puck in the crease, and Freddy Modin scored the final goal as insurance.
The team still was far more concerned about Pavelec after the game than the fact that they won their third home opener against the Caps in a row. Dustin Byfuglien encouraged the team to go out and win the game for Pavs, and they did. What set tonight's home opener apart from other games, and I will go more in-depth into this this weekend, is that they out-muscled and out shoved the Capitals playing a style of hockey not often seen in the Eastern Conference. It was team oriented, rough and tumble, and it took no prisoners. It was Western Conference hockey, and it's a new arrival to Atlanta that could very well help us plow over the divisional rivals that the Thrashers face.