The upshot in games like tonight's 1-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes is that it doesn't count. If it were a regular season game, it'd be frustrating - almost heartbreaking - to see a team fight this much and barely come up short. When you take into consideration that it's a preseason game with kids who probably won't be making the roster against one of the top goalies in the league, you come out with a lot more to like.
There weren't any glaring goof-ups tonight. No awkward defensive positioning aside from a few flubs at the blue line, the lines shot - though none of the scoring chances were the best quality, the Thrashers ended with 32 SOG - and Chris Mason gave the team every chance that they could have to win the game. The only goal - which came within the first two minutes of the third period - was not the Chris Mason soft goal that Blues fans came to expect. Not from the point, and not with a clear line of sight. Jeff Skinner scored the only goal of the game on an odd bounce that caught Enstrom and Mason both out of position, though Mason was attempting to block the initial bounce before the rebound. There wasn't much to be done on the goal save for Mason scooting to his left a fraction of a bit quicker, but that probably wouldn't've been much help. Other than that one goal, Mason stopped 25 shots and was awarded the second star of the game in his first start in a Thrashers uniform.
One thing that was extremely noticeable was the determination of the play by the Thrashers. There was not one single period where the team laid back and tuned out, which is contrary to the last season, where they chose one period a game to not play. The offensive pressure never let up, and the breaks to Carolina's zone were more obvious and much more plentiful than they were on Tuesday. Brent Sopel and Dustin Byfuglien were more than willing to knock some 'Canes around (more on Buff in a second), and they were joined by rookies Fredrik Pettersson and Alex Burmistrov. Burmistrov was surprising in his tenacity, fighting for control of the puck whenever there were Carolina players around him, and more often than not the Thrashers retained possession.
Very unfortunately, Carolina forward Sergei Samsonov was injured when he fell into the boards on a tripping penalty on Dustin Byfuglien. Byfuglien was attempting to chip at the puck and Samsonov's stick to defend during a scoring situation when his stick became stuck in Samsonov's skates for a moment.
Samsonov is returning to Carolina with the team with a sprained neck, but the injury on the ice looked dreadful, stopping play for seven or eight minutes while they got Samsonov on the stretcher.
The Thrashers cut four more players today, sending Peter Mannino and Drew MacIntyre to the Chicago Wolves along with Akim Aliu and Drew Sifers. As Ben Wright points out, all but Aliu have to clear waivers, and the Minnesota Wild could be looking for a solid back-up after Josh Harding's collision with Brad Boyes of the St. Louis Blues last night. Both Mannino and MacIntyre are excellent AHL goaltenders and could do in a pinch for the Wild if Harding is out long term.