This time there would be no theatrics. On Wednesday night, the Canes defeated Atlanta 5-2. In two previous meetings with the Birds, the Canes have needed some crazy theatrics. In Hotlanta a few weeks ago, it took a goal with less than a second remaining in regulation. In Raleighwood last week, it took overtime. Nothing like that on Wednesday.
Early in the first, the Canes got off on the wrong foot from a discipline standpoint, and it would be a theme for the rest of the night. Just two minutes in, Craig Adams took a minor penalty for holding and another for complaining about it. No beef here with the officiating. Every penalty was legitimate. My beef is with the Canes. The majority of the penalties were the lazy selfish kind. They have to do better with that. They committed 11 penalties, giving the Thrashers 10 bona fide power plays including a lengthy 5-on-3. Of those 11 penalties, 9 were silly. They got away with it.
At 10:14 of the first, Ray "The Wizard" Whitney scored the game's first goal from in close on Lehtonen. The official boxscore won't tell you this, and a newspaper article won't either. That goal was pure Erik Cole. Colesy used his speed, strength and skill to work the puck through the Atlanta zone, drawing all the Thrashers skaters to the right side. He left a nifty drop pass for the trailing Rod Brind'Amour, who then sent a cross-ice pass to Whitters on the doorstep. Cole got the secondary assist, Brind'Amour with the first.
Just 40 seconds later, Scott Walker surprised Lehtonen with a slap shot blast from the right faceoff dot, beating the Finn cleanly on the short side. Eric Staal got the first assist and Viva got the second.
3:58 into the second, Maid Marian Hossa got one past Cam Ward. Assists on the power play goal went to Slata Kozlov and Andy Sutton.
Rod Brind'Amour made the score 3-1 at 8:31. With a delayed penalty in hand and an extra attacker on the ice, the Canes were really moving the puck well. Down below the goal line, Ray Whitney found the Captain all alone in the high slot area. You can't leave that man all by himself. It was like shooting needles in a haystack. Err.... wait. That's not how that analogy works. Anyway, it was an easy goal. Ray Whitney and Erik Cole got the helpers. Oficially, it was an "even strength" goal, but unofficially, it was a six-on-four.
Ray Whitney used some fancy moves, and perhaps a lot of studying game tape on Lehtonen, to make it 4-1 at 15:09. He received a pass at the right point, and made a drastic swooping move to get into the high slot. From there, his shot through traffic found the back of the net. Chad "Sharpie" LaRose got the first assist and Brindy got the second. Lehtonen was yanked in favor of the Swede Johan Hedberg
There had been a ton of Thrashers power plays at the end of two. Through a combination of great killing by the Canes and poor execution by the Thrash, they weren't taking advantage of their many chances. They were getting a lot of shots on goal, but not many were "good" shots. They weren't moving the puck well, and they weren't even maintaining the zone that well. It must have been very frustrating.
At 7:30 of the third, Vitaly Vishnevski made it kind of interesting by pulling the Birds to within two. His backhander to the short side from in close gave the Thrashers new life. Scott Mellanby an Bobby Holik got the assists.
Brind'Amour got another goal at 18:34 of the third to seal the deal. The empty net goal from long distance was assisted by Ray Whitney and Viva. It was the 999th point of Brind'Amour's career.
The next 90 seconds took an eternity because there were several skirmishes, a multitude of penalties against the Thrashers, a misconduct ejection of Scott Mellanby, and a bunch of other garbage that we've sadly grown accustomed to seeing from Bob Hartley's squad.
The Atlanta media gave the first star to Cam Ward. Fair enough. He stopped 40 shots. Inexplicably, the second star went to Glen Wesley. Huh? He played a very average game. Equally inexplicably, the third star went to Maid Marian.
The Canes TV gave the first star to Brind'Amour, the second to Whitney and the third to Ward.
My stars are as such:
Third Star Cam Ward, CAR. 40 saves
Second Star Rod Brind'Amour, CAR. 2 goals, 2 assists. 999 career points.
First Star Ray Whitney, CAR. 2 goals, 2 assists.
On Thursday night, the Canes will be back home for the back end of a back-to-back set. Already, this is their fifth back-to-back.
5 years ago