The box-score is a lesson in futility for the Thrashers. It stands as a testament when a team quits, and that’s precisely what the Thrashers did tonight. They weren’t in the game from the puck drop onwards, and they never looked like the team that shut out the Rangers 3-0 last night, not even for a second.
The Thrashers only managed 19 shots on goal to Carolina’s 32, and obviously did significantly less with their scoring chances than the Hurricanes did. Bryan Little scored the only Thrashers goal at 19:21 of the third period to prevent Cam Ward from having a shutout, but the lack of celebration on the ice post-goal was just one more view of a defeated team.
It’s fairly telling what the outcome of the game is going to be when a team is down 2-0 by the end of the first period, and then down 3-0 after less than a minute into the second. Atlanta managed to right the ship briefly the second half of the second period, but the third period got out of control. The Thrashers allowed goals in under two minutes apart yet again this season, with Brandon Sutter and Jussi Jokinen scoring to start the third period barrage. Jokinen’s goal, with Pavelec too far out in front of his crease, prompted the goaltender to break his stick against the glass and throw it across the ice – which of course earned him a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. On the ensuing powerplay, the Canes scored again, with Pavelec too far out in front yet again.
Hopefully Pavelec’s tantrum caught the attention of the team, as turnovers repeatedly left him out to dry; however, Pavs’ tantrum shouldn’t be directed at the team. It was on him tonight. The first four or five goals, had he been more observant or positioned correctly, could have been stopped. He did not play well tonight at all, and his continued disintegration in net should have ended after the first period. Craig Ramsay, however, saw it fit to leave him in and allow the shots to keep piling up in the back of the net.
Pavelec claimed responsibility for the snap, telling the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore:
“I feel like a loser right now, to be honest,” Pavelec said. “Like a loser in front of those people. I have that sensation. We didn’t make [the playoffs]. [The frustration was] my fault of course. I have to control that.
“It happens. You play a bad game. I just felt for myself like a loser. That’s why I did it.”
One of the most important aspects of a goaltender’s game is composure – if you lose it, the opposition with take advantage of you. Pavs has lost concentration multiple times this season – apparently tonight’s game was all of that boiling over in one massive loss of focus. Hopefully he’s learned his lesson.
One Thrashers player who actually did have a good game was defensive call-up Andrei Zubarev. He finished the night even, with 4:55 played on the penalty kill, and 22:46 in ice time overall. Little and Andrew Ladd, who assisted on Little’s goal, managed to escape the blowout with +1 ratings.
Dustin Byfuglien did not escape unscathed, however. His roughing, slashing, and game misconduct penalties halfway through the third period showed massive frustration boiling over. Whether it was frustration at the game or at the season, it was warranted – but not appropriately channeled.