The Atlanta Thrashers overcame a two goal deficit to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 in front of nearly 18,000 raucous fans at Phillips Arena.
Ilya Kovalchuk had five points (2 G, 3 A) in the game, and Rich Peverley added two goals (including his team leading fourth game-winning goal of the season) to get the team the win.
The game started agonizingly enough, with the Hurricanes taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Tuomo Ruutu and Sergei Samsonov provided the goals in the frame for the 'Canes.
In the second period, the play definitely started to turn in the favor of Atlanta, and with 36 seconds left in the frame, Ilya Kovalchuk, on the dead sprint, fired a shot over the shoulder of the crouching Cam Ward that barely snuck in under the bar to send the game to intermission at 2-1. It was a thing of beauty, and it for the first time brought to attention the number of vocal supporters that the Thrashers had assembled for the game.
The third period begun much like the first one ended, with the Hurricanes scoring a goal and probably dealing a death blow to Atlanta's chances for the evening. The Thrashers, however, had other ideas.
Rich Peverley brought the team to within a goal at 3-2 with a tap-in goal for a puck that Cam Ward thought he had covered up. Then, in a flurry of activity in front of the Carolina net, several Thrashers players peppered Cam Ward with shots before Kovie pinged a shot off the post. Ward flailed around on the ice hoping to God he had covered the puck up, but Todd White flipped the unattended rubber biscuit into the net to knot the game up at three apiece.
After an "Ax Men"-worthy chop sent the Thrashers on the power play, Rich Peverley made the most of the opportunity and snuck the puck past Ward to put Atlanta up by one with less than two minutes to go in the game. Peverley has proven with his 21 points in 20 games that he is the best waiver wire addition thus far in the NHL season, and possibly has upped his prominence on the team's attacking units.
The Hurricanes mounted one final assault, and they finally relinquished the puck in the waning seconds, and Kovalchuk emphatically slapped the puck into the empty Carolina net for a 5-3 win and a roar from the crowd that has been woefully lacking at Phillips Arena this season.
The story of the game could easily have been Kovie's five points, or Peverley's team leading fourth game winning goal, but instead, the story of this game turned out to be none other than the Atlanta fans. Nearly 18,000 people showed up at the game tonight, and their voices were heard loud and clear throughout. With that in mind, the first star of tonight's game should be the hockey fans of Atlanta. They showed spirit and enthusiasm, and here's hoping that this is the start of more good things to come. Good night Blueland.
PS: Here's a totally self-serving link to my article on The Hockey Writers (which will be my last article as a full-time writer for the team. Click here