January ended on a fairly positive note tonight with a solid effort from the team that, if nothing else, showed heart and a determination to not be shell-shocked from the injuries that’ve befallen the team. After allowing the Tampa Bay Lightning to shellack them 7-1, the Thrashers came back tonight with a lock-down effort against the Capitals.
Both goaltenders were excellent, with Ondrej Pavelec stopping 36 shots and Semeyon Varlamov stopping 24. The Thrashers only goal came from Nik Antropov in the second period on a dish from Fredrik Modin. It was Antropov’s ninth goal so far of this season, continuing his point run. Antropov has seven points in his last ten games and is steadily improving after recovering from offseason hip surgery.
Tonight was Pavelec’s third shutout of the season, and his second shutout of the Capitals. Despite the high number of shots allowed by the Thrashers, the defense was on the ball. Not one had a bad game – Ron Hainsey added an assist on Antropov’s goal, and Dustin Byfuglien had several solid looks at the net and led the team with 25:57 of ice time. Unfortunately, he has gone pointless in his last 10 games. Zach Bogosian apparently reads blogs, because he had his best performance in over a month tonight, deflecting shots away and being a key part of the penalty kill that went a perfect three for three tonight.
Both teams, though, were obviously tired and frustrated by the end of the night, and can use some time off. The Thrashers next play Tuesday night against the New York Islanders. The Thrashers head into the All-Star break in the eighth and final playoff spot with a tenuous one point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes, who defeated the New York Islanders 4-2 tonight.