for this game

Capitals spoil banner-raising night for Thrashers

Oct 6, 2007 - 4:01 AM
By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- On the night the Atlanta Thrashers raised their first division championship banner to the rafters, the Washington Capitals served notice that they will be a force in the Southeast this season.

Viktor Kozlov scored in his Washington debut and Brent Johnson turned aside 28 shots to lead the Capitals to a 3-1 win over the Thrashers in the season opener for both clubs on Friday.

Last season was one of firsts for the Thrashers' organization, which won its first division title by recording a franchise-best 97 points en route to its first playoff appearance. Atlanta's stay in the postseason was brief, as the team was swept by the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, the Capitals struggled through their 2006-07 campaign, amassing just 70 points to bring up the rear in the division. But with the addition of Kozlov and several others and the maturation of superstar Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, Washington sought to forget about last season's dismal campaign.

They got the season off to a good start on Friday.

"The two (new) players (Michael Nylander and Kozlov) were huge for us," Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. "I thought we did a lot of things right."

Midway through the first period, rookie Nicklas Backstrom found Nylander, who wristed a shot off goaltender Kari Lehtonen's right pad during a power play at 10:41 to give Washington a 1-0 lead.

It was the first career point for Backstrom, the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft. The talented Swede scored 40 points in 45 games for Byrnas of the Swedish Elite League last season.

"I was really excited for this game," the 19-year-old Backstrom said. "I am happy the team won. It was a dream of mine as a kid to play in the NHL."

A defensive miscue by Atlanta led to Washington's next goal 72 seconds later.

Thrashers blue-liner Ken Klee misplayed the puck, which found the stick of fellow defenseman John Erskine, who laced a slap shot from above the right faceoff circle past Lehtonen to give the Capitals a 2-0 advantage.

It was only the fifth goal in 171 games for the 27-year-old Erskine, who last found the net last December 2 against Buffalo.

"It felt pretty good," Erskine said of his rare goal. "I don't get too many of them. I was glad to get it over with in the first game."

Rookie Bryan Little, the 12th overall pick in 2006, halved the deficit with 5:06 remaining in the second period. The 19-year-old grabbed his own rebound and put a backhander behind Johnson for his first career tally, becoming the first player in franchise history to score a goal in his NHL debut.

"(Ilya Kovalchuk) came down and made a good pass," said Little, who notched 41 goals and 66 assists for Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League last season. "I missed wide on the first one, and when I got (the puck) in the corner, I kind of threw it. I got lucky, but I'll take it."

The Capitals regained their two-goal advantage when Kozlov deflected defenseman Mike Green's slap shot by Lehtonen at 5:27 of the third period.

"It's very important to start the season the right way," Kozlov said. "Right now, we need to continue the same way. It begins again tomorrow for us again, and it's going to be like this every game."

Johnson stopped 28 shots for the Capitals, including a breakaway by Marian Hossa with eight minutes remaining in the second period.

"They worked much harder at the beginning of the game, got a quick 2-0 lead and were pushing and pushing," Lehtonen said. "We were looking for a solid game to get a good start. We didn't get a good start. We came back, but it wasn't good enough."

"We certainly didn't skate very well, and that put us on our heels," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "In the second and third periods, I thought we did some good things, but the damage was done."

Lehtonen made 37 saves for Atlanta, which fell to 1-3-1 in season openers at home.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 2 0 1 3
    ATLANTA 0 1 0 1 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) MICHAEL NYLANDER 1 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM) 10:41
    WAS - JOHN ERSKINE 1 (UNASSISTED) 12:03
    2ND PRD: ATL - BRYAN LITTLE 1 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, ALEXEI ZHITNIK) 14:54
    3RD PRD: WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 1 (MIKE GREEN, ALEXANDE

    Oct 5 10:14 PM
  • 20
    roots
    LAEASTFAN Added 5 roots

    Capitals vs. ThrashersOct 5 10:12 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 3RD 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 2 0 1 3
    ATLANTA 0 1 0 1 END OF THE 3RD
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) MICHAEL NYLANDER 1 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM) 10:41
    WAS - JOHN ERSKINE 1 (UNASSISTED) 12:03
    2ND PRD: ATL - BRYAN LITTLE 1 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, ALEXEI ZHITNIK) 14:54
    3RD PRD: WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 1 (MIKE GR

    Oct 5 10:12 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 3
    ATLANTA 1
    3RD PRD: WAS - MIKE GREEN 1 (ALEXANDER OVECHKIN, TOM POTI) 5:27

    Capitals vs. ThrashersOct 5 9:49 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 2 0 2
    ATLANTA 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) MICHAEL NYLANDER 1 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM) 10:41
    WAS - JOHN ERSKINE 1 (UNASSISTED) 12:03
    2ND PRD: ATL - BRYAN LITTLE 1 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, ALEXEI ZHITNIK) 14:54
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TO

    Oct 5 9:20 PM
  • goCapsRavens The Thrashers don't have a chance.

    Capitals vs. ThrashersOct 5 9:13 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 2
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: ATL - BRYAN LITTLE 1 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, ALEXEI ZHITNIK) 14:54

    Capitals vs. ThrashersOct 5 9:11 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 2
    ATLANTA 0 0:00 LEFT, 1ST PRD

    Oct 5 8:26 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 2
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: WAS - JOHN ERSKINE 1 (UNASSISTED) 12:03

    Capitals vs. ThrashersOct 5 8:14 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 1
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) MICHAEL NYLANDER 1 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM) 10:41

    Capitals vs. ThrashersOct 5 8:09 PM
  • 15
    roots
    goCapsRavens Added 5 roots

    Capitals vs. ThrashersOct 5 6:45 PM
  • 10
    roots
    pclifton86 Added 5 roots

    Capitals vs. ThrashersOct 5 12:18 PM
  • 5
    roots
    ekabrazi Added 5 roots

    Capitals vs. ThrashersOct 5 11:23 AM