Atlanta Thrashers 5, Columbus Blue Jackets 4 (shootout)
While the level of play in the seventh-place game was not as high as the others, it did offer more drama. The Blue Jackets’ rag-tag team of largely invitees came back from a 3-1 deficit to force overtime and a shootout.
Stefan Legein was extremely good for Columbus, seemingly everywhere. The feisty winger hounds the puck and regularly beats defenders with bursts of speed. He scored a clutch go-ahead goal late in the third period, but it didn’t stand up.
For the Thrashers, Evander Kane was the standout. He scored two goals from right beside the net, exactly where he’s been scoring from all tournament long. That’s not to say that he doesn’t perform well in open ice, because he will regularly go into heavy traffic and still manage to get a shot off. But those aren’t the shots that are going in for him. He’s scoring very opportunistically on garbage around the net. He finished the tournament tied for the goal lead with five.
Matt Calvert, who finished the tournament tied for first in the scoring race with Aaron Palushaj with seven points, again today showed how aggressively he plays the game by taking a boarding penalty against Cody Sol who has six inches on him.
Less impressive was Jeremy Morin, who showed a single dimension of goal scoring, to the point of not passing when his teammate had a better angle on the net.
Brent Regner‘s goal was from the circle, going in glove side high on Chris Carrozzi. Brock McBride’s goal was a quick cross-ice pass through the crease from Darren Archibald. Danick Paquette scored on a rebound to the side of the net. He did not return to the game after a fight with Zak Ray.
Each team scored two in the five-man shootout — Morin, Kane, Caria and Clark — so it was on to sudden-death shooting. Levko Koper, a plugger, was the unlikely hero, who went high on Andrew Loverock for the win.
This high-tempo game featured good goaltending, defense and even some trash-talking in French. Both Thomas McCollum and Tyler Beskorowany played solidly, but neither saw many shots in the early going as their defenses both limited shots and cleared away rebounds. The Red Wings stepped it up in the second and third periods and came away with the win.
Landon Ferraro was terrific for the Red Wings. He had chance after chance and was finally rewarded for his hard work with a goal late in the second period. A shot bounced off the glass behind Beskorowany and popped out to the slot, where Ferraro came in as a trailer and put it home. Jan Mursak scored immediately after him, on a lightning quick cross-ice pass from Cory Emmerton that Beskorowany had no chance on. Tomas Tatar continued his waterbug-style good play.
Mitchell Callahan scored in the middle of the second period on an off-speed shot that floated over Beskorowany’s glove from the circle.
Jamie Benn won’t see an easier goal than the one he scored today. Standing in the slot, a rebound popped directly to him, and he had an open net to shoot at since McCollum had been drawn out to the side. But this goal does not erase negatives like a lackadaisical forecheck. Ivan Vishnevskiy was again disappointing at both ends, and Scott Glennie was invisible. The best skater for Dallas was probably Sergei Korostin, who wins puck battles regularly.
NY Rangers 5, St. Louis Blues 4
Each team played their best goaltender in this contest, but neither got the excellent performance they were hoping for.
Jake Allen really struggled for the Blues, with Luke Walker’s goal scored coming from behind the net and Allen losing sight of it, and one of Evgeny Grachev‘e that he thought he covered with his glove but was poked home.
At the other end, Scott Stajcer gave up a shaky one to Tyler Shattock on a low wrister from the point with no traffic that went in far side. Others on Stajcer were harder to stop, including a tip in front by Jake Combs on a low shot from the blue line.
There were several good performances by Ranger prospects. Ryan Bourque was terrific, showing great vision and a strong work ethic. His night was marred by two bad penalties, however, one for tripping and one for hooking.
Daniel Bartek did not look at all like a tryout player, nor like someone who only scored 36 points in the WHL last year. He made several nice plays with his speed, including a turn-around shot in the slot that was saved. A nice pass to Ethan Werek in the slot on a rush resulted in a goal.
Grachev had two goals, one a wrister on a rush over Allen’s right shoulder, and the other the lucky poke from a bad cover. Captain Dale Weise had a good game, and was rewarded with an empty netter.
The Carolina Hurricanes maintained their high level of play and cruised to a relatively easy win over the Minnesota Wild for the 2009 Traverse City Prospects Tournament championship. Minnesota’s smothering forecheck was no match for a Hurricanes team that moved the puck well.
Defenseman Beau Schmitz was surprisingly good for Carolina, leaving one to wonder why no one took a chance on him this past June. His anticipation is one of his best assets.
Zach Boychuk continued what has been a dominating performance at Traverse City. His goal in this game was a complete solo effort, carried in from the far blue line with determination and speed. He zoomed past two defenders and clanged it in past Darcy Kuemper. Boychuk finished with four goals in the tournament, on his way to the Hurricanes opening night roster.
Brandon Sutter scored a shorthanded wrister that Kuemper got a piece of, but dribbled behind him. Kristofer Foucault was noticeable for the Wild. Chad Rau scored the team’s only goal, on the power play.
Mike Murphy was the only goaltender to play in all four of his team’s games at the tournament, finishing with a 2.45 GAA and .933 save percentage.
"It was a good win," Hurricanes captain Nick Dodge said. "It was a good week. You come out here and come together as a team for five days, you might as well go out and win the thing (smiles). We had a good group of guys who played hard for four games. It feels good."
The success came from a well-balanced team.
"We’ve got a lot of talent in that room, a good group of guys and I think we just had fun with it," Dodge said. "Worked hard and enjoyed it."