Ward, Hurricanes stymie Thrashers

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Thrashers did everything head coach Craig Ramsey preaches. Everything that is, except score.

They skated hard, they forchecked, the defenseman got involved in the offense and the played tight defense. They did everything but solve Carolina netminder Cam Ward, as they fell to the Hurricanes 1-0 at Philips Arena Saturday night.

Atlanta pelted Ward with 32 shots for the game, but each time, the former Conn Smythe winner was equal to the task.

“We were much better tonight,” Ramsey said. “We had a lot more energy, a lot more enthushiasm, we were strong on the puck we just didn’t finish. We missed the chances we had and we had the opportunites to score.”

In his Blueland debut, Thrashers goalie Chris Mason was equally impressive, yielding only one goal on 29 shots.

“It was a typical preseason game,” Mason said. “But we showed a lot of improvement from the first game.”

The Hurricanes goal, scored at 1:17 of the third, resulted in a miscommunication between Mason and his defense. Mason was forced to play the puck of his backhand behind the net and misplayed it, allowing Jeff Skinner to notch and easy tap in.

Twelve seconds later there was a scary moment when veteran Hurricanes forward Sergei Samsonov was tripped up by Dustin Byfuglien and slammed headfirst into the end boards. The game was delayed nearly 10 minutes as Carolina medical staff had to immobilize Samsonov before he was carted off the ice on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital.

Samsonov was feeling full movement in all extremities after the game, and is expected to be fine.

“His toe just picked the ice and he went hard into the boards,” Byfuglien said. “I didn’t hit him hard or anything.”

Other for Byfuglien, who played his first game at defense in over two years, he was OK with how he played.

“I thought it went very well,” he said. “We battled hard as a team and I thought the D joined the rush good and we just have to keep watching video and get better.

The top line for the Thrashers was undoubtedly the line of Rich Peverley, Fredrik Modin and Fredrik Pettersson. They cycled the puck and accounted for 12 of Atlanta’s shots.

Atlanta next plays Monday when it travels to Nashville to take on the Predators.

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