ATLANTA — Outside of power-play goals from Bryan Little and Fredrik Petterson, the Atlanta Thrashers looked very sloppy in Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Philips Arena.
Sure it was the first game of the pre-season. And sure, the Thrashers lineup only contained a handful of regulars, but very little went right for Atlanta. They allowed a pair of goals 26 seconds apart in the first period and turned over the puck far too many times.
Head coach Craig Ramsey, while not using it as an excuse could tell his team was tired.
“I hate to say it, and there are no excuses, but we looked a little tired,” Ramsey said. “We tried to change fast, but we just looked tired. We know we put in the effort the last few days and we just looked tired. Columbus pushed us hard and we just didn’t have the footspeed tonight.”
The Thrashers played like an exhausted team. Columbus consistent hemmed them in the defensive zones and many of Atlanta’s possessions were one shot and done.
“It was tough,” said Little, who also assisted on Petterson’s goal. “We made some mistakes and we didn’t have a lot of composure with the puck tonight and they played good. They had a lot of energy and they were getting the dirty goals in the dirty places and they took the energy out of the game right away.”
One of the few bright spots of the night was the line of Little, Petterson and Nigel Dawes. The trio consistently cycled the puck and two of them were rewarded with goals scored off rebounds.
But the team knows it has to take care of the puck and that that starts with communication.
“I think we can do way better,” Petterson said. “It’s all about communication with the goalie, the D-men and the wingers. It’s all of us and when we did it, it works really well.
“But we’re going to improve, that’s why we have these pre-season games.”
Tuesday also marked the debut of Alex Burmistrov, the No. 8 pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The dynamic Russian center admitted to being nervous before the game, but played much better as the game wore on.
Burmistrov played a good defensive game and along with Evander Kane, formed a solid penalty-killing unit, which impressed his defensive-minded coach.
“He was great on the penalty kill and defensively,” Ramsey said. “He played well and I thought he battled hard, but it’s just a matter of learning the pace of the NHL and knowing what to do with the puck at all times.”
Burmistrov also nearly scored a late power play goal late in the third period, only to be denied on a splendid blocker save by Columbus netminder Dan LeNeveu.
“I wanted to score 100 percent,” he said.
The Thrashers will return to the practice rink Wednesday and next play Saturday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at Philips Arena.