False Start – Washington jumped out to a quick start in Friday’s opener. The Caps were all over the Thrashers in the opening minutes, playing almost exclusively in the offensive zone, creating chances and getting shots on goal. Those might have been the best six or seven minutes the Caps played all night, but they had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard and they were unable to sustain it the rest of the way.
The Caps drew an early power play when Thrashers’ rookie Zach Bogosian went off for holding at 1:52, but could not convert. Brooks Laich tipped a Mike Green point shot past Atlanta netminder Kari Lehtonen with just nine seconds remaining in Bogosian’s sentence, but the Caps forward was ruled to have played the puck with his stick above the crossbar and the goal was nullified.
Just 14 seconds after Tom Poti went off for tripping at 8:06 of the first to give the Thrashers their first power play of the night. Ron Hainsey scored on a rebound. The goal was his first as a Thrasher and it gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead.
Hainsey’s goal was the first of three unanswered Atlanta goals in a span of 5:28.
Two for 52 in :52 – With the Caps trailing by a pair midway through the game, Poti took a high stick from Atlanta’s Marty Reasoner. The infraction resulted in a double-minor for high-sticking, and the Caps cashed in.
Mike Green scored a pair of power play goals exactly 52 seconds apart to even the score.
Another Miss – Alex Ovechkin established the Caps franchise record on Friday when he took his fourth penalty shot in a Caps uniform. Unfortunately for Ovi and the Caps, he has now missed on all four bids.
Ovechkin beat Lehtonen, but didn’t get his shot high enough, allowing the Atlanta netminder to make wishbone save. Ovechkin had been tied with Peter Bondra and Mike Gartner, both of whom had three penalty shots with the Caps. Ovi did convert a preseason penalty shot try against Carolina’s Daniel Manzato a few weeks back.
21 Jump – Laich’s name did not show up on Friday night’s scoresheet, but he won two corner battles leading up to Green’s second goal, the game-tying goal at the time. Laich had a good night along the walls and in the corner and was the only Caps center who enjoyed a plus night (7 of 10, 70%) in the face-off circle. Washington won just 40% of its draws on the night in Friday’s season opener.
Short Stuff – Alexander Semin logged 2:38 in shorthanded ice time on Friday night, just 10 seconds shy of the total he recorded for the entire 2007-08 season. Semin notched a shorthanded assist – the first shorthanded point of his NHL career – in his 193rd game in the league. Earlier, Semin netted his 75th career goal.
Semin’s assist came on David Steckel’s shorthanded goal, the first of his NHL career. Steckel’s first shorty came in his 80th NHL game. Steckel had nine shorthanded goals in his two seasons with the Hershey Bears.
Bombs Away – Poti was bothered by a shoulder injury for most of last season. He played through it, but the ailment curtailed his ability to shoot the puck with authority. As a result, he managed just 99 shots on goal, his fewest in any NHL season since he had just 94 in his rookie campaign of 1998-99.
Poti launched three shots on goal in Friday night’s opener. In his last 25 games of 2007-08, Poti had only two games in which he had as many as three shots on goal.
The Kid’s All Right – Stefan Della Rovere, Washington’s seventh-round (204th overall) choice in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, was named the CHL Player of the Week this week. Della Rovere had four goals and seven points in two games for the OHL’s Barrie Colts. Della Rovere serves as Barrie’s captain.
Caps prospect Joel Broda of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors earned the CHL Player of the Week last week. Broda was Washington’s fifth-round (144th overall) choice in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Little Help – In the 2007-08 season opener between the Thrashers and Caps in Atlanta, Thrashers forward Bryan Little scored his team’s lone goal in a 3-1 Washington win. It was Little’s first NHL goal and it came in his first NHL game.
On Friday in Atlanta, he went one better. Little beat Washington’s Jose Theodore through the five-hole in the first period, and beat the Caps’ Brent Johnson through the five-hole in the third. The second Little goal proved to be the game-winner. It was Little’s first multiple-goal game in the NHL.
Kid Stuff – Defenseman Zach Bogosian became the youngest player in Thrashers history when he suited up for tonight’s game. He skated 12:48 on the night, drew two minors and found himself in a late-game scrap with Washington’s Donald Brashear.
Power Surge – Atlanta’s power play struggled last season, finishing 23rd in the league with a 16.5% extra man success rate. The Thrashers fell short in their offseason bid to land free agent defenseman Brian Campbell, and settled instead for Ron Hainsey, formerly of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Hainsey scored the game’s first goal on an Atlanta power play. He now has 21 career NHL goals, and 17 of them have come with the man advantage. He picked up 23 of his 32 points last season on the power play.
Down on the Farm – The Hershey Bears paid a visit to East Division rival Norfolk on Friday night where they played the second of their season-opening four-game road trip against the Admirals. Hershey ran its record to 2-0 on the season with a 5-3 win.
Oskar Osala started the scoring for Hershey with his first goal as a North American pro at 9:52 of the first with help from Mathieu Perreault and Tyler Sloan. After the Admirals forged a 2-1 second period lead, Graham Mink evened the score with his fourth goal of the season, Alexandre Giroux and Keith Aucoin assisting.
Hershey regained the lead at 16:57 of the middle frame when Andrew Gordon netted his second of the season on a power play. Kyle Wilson and Perreault earned the helpers on that one. With less than a minute remaining in the second, Giroux netted his second of the season, Chris Bourque and Karl Alzner assisting.
The Admirals pulled to within a goal midway through the second period, but Bourque iced the game with an empty-net tally at 18:44. Quintin Laing collected the lone assist on that strike.
For the second time in as many games, Daren Machesney got the start in goal for Hershey with Simeon Varlamov serving as the backup. Machesney stopped 19 of the 22 shots he faced to earn his second victory. Varlamov is slated to see his first duty as a North American pro on Saturday night when the Bears play a second straight tilt against the Ads in Norfolk.