Thrashers Honor Snyder, Then Beat Columbus
The healing process has begun for the grief-stricken Atlanta Thrashers.
On opening night, the eve of teammate Dan Snyder’s funeral, the Thrashers began a new season that already is filled with pain and anguish.
A somber ceremony before the game Thursday night set the stage for a dramatic victory as the Thrashers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 behind Chris Tamer’s goal with 2:24 remaining.
Snyder died Sunday from a severe brain injury suffered when fellow Thrashers teammate Dany Heatley lost control of his speeding Ferrari and crashed it into a wall.
``It was the toughest game I ever played,″ Tamer said. ``That was one of the biggest goals I’ve ever scored.″
In other NHL games, it was Philadelphia 2, Buffalo 0; Washington 6, the New York Islanders 1; Ottawa 5, Montreal 2; Florida 3, Carolina 1; Detroit 3, Los Angeles 2; Nashville 3, Anaheim 1; Edmonton 5, San Jose 2; and Vancouver 4, Calgary 1.
Heatley is hurt badly, inside and out. But he might return to the ice this season, if vehicular homicide charges don’t lead to jail time. First he and the rest of the Thrashers will make the trip to Canada in order to attend Snyder’s funeral on Friday.
``We have to have closure,″ Tamer said. ``This will help us move on. We have to move on.″
Heatley broke his jaw and tore two ligaments in his knee that required surgery. He’s out indefinitely.
``He’s feeling good about the surgery,″ Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said. ``That’s all he’s feeling good about.″
Snyder was remembered as the lights dimmed and a bagpipe came from under the stands to play ``Amazing Grace.″ A video clip was also shown, displaying Snyder’s happy hockey moments.
Snyder’s skates and helmet remained in his locker, and his No. 37 was painted along the corner of the boards. The number also was stitched to each player’s jersey.
Tamer, one of only three players left from Atlanta’s inaugural season of 1999-2000, made the difference when his shot beat goalie Marc Denis, who didn’t appear to see the puck. The Thrashers plan to give the puck to Snyder’s family.
Ilya Kovalchuk also scored for Atlanta and Pasi Nurimen made 26 saves, allowing only Andrej Nedorost’s tying goal for Columbus in the second period.
``There’s not a better feeling, this is what we wanted to do as a team,″ Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said.
Flyers 2, Sabres 0
At Philadelphia, Mark Recchi and Michal Handzus scored power-play goals, and Jeff Hackett stopped all 17 Buffalo shots for his 24th career shutout.
Flyers captain Keith Primeau received a five-minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct for driving Sabres captain Miroslav Satan headfirst into the boards. Satan fell to the ice, holding his head. But he skated away on his own a minute later.
Panthers 3, Hurricanes 1
At Sunrise, Fla., Kristian Huselius scored 7:37 into the third period to lift Florida over Carolina in the first game of the season for both teams.
The Panthers hadn’t won their opener since beating Washington in 1999.
Niklas Hagman scored the first goal for the Panthers. Viktor Kozlov added an empty-net goal with 49 seconds left.
Erik Cole had the lone goal for Carolina.
Predators 3, Mighty Ducks 1
At Nashville, Tenn., Andreas Johansson and Mark Eaton each scored in the second period and David Legwand added a goal and an assist for the Predators.
The victory was the Predators’ first since March 7, snapping a 15-game winless skid from last season.
The Mighty Ducks, the defending Western Conference champs, have started this season with two straight losses, and they have managed only one goal in each. Rob Niedermayer has scored both.
Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo made history as the first person of Inuit descent to play in the NHL.
Red Wings 3, Kings 2
At Detroit, Steve Yzerman’s goal with 1.7 seconds left capped the Red Wings’ come-from-behind season-opening victory against Los Angeles.
Pavel Datsyuk tied it at 2 with 3:45 left, about six minutes after Los Angeles’ Ziggy Palffy scored a go-ahead goal for the Kings.
Detroit goalie Dominik Hasek made 21 saves in his comeback from a one-year retirement.
Capitals 6, Islanders 1
At Washington, Peter Bondra scored twice and Jaromir Jagr had a goal and an assist as Washington opened its 30th season with a victory.
Washington also got goals from John Gruden, Mike Grier and Jeff Halpern.
The game made for a miserable debut for New York rookie coach Steve Sterling, whose team was 7-0 in the preseason.
Mariusz Czerkawski scored for the Islanders, who have won just one of their last 28 games (1-24-3) against the Capitals and have never won at the MCI Center.
Senators 5, Canadiens 2
At Ottawa, Jason Spezza and Petr Schastlivy scored power-play goals in the first period for the Senators.
Chris Neil, Chris Phillips and Daniel Alfredsson also scored for Ottawa. Spezza, Alfredsson and Phillips each had two points for the Senators.
Ron Hainsey and Mike Ribeiro scored for Montreal.
Canucks 4, Flames 1
At Vancouver, British Columbia, Artem Chubarov scored a goal and set up Jarkko Ruutu’s insurance tally.
Rookie Jason King scored his first NHL goal, and Todd Bertuzzi added one for Vancouver. Calgary’s Chris Clark scored a power-play goal.
Oilers 5, Sharks 2
At Edmonton, Alberta, Raffi Torres scored the tiebreaking goal and added an assist in his Oilers debut and Ryan Smyth added two goals for the Oilers.
The season opener began with a ceremony for Hall of Fame goalie Grant Fuhr, who had his No. 31 Oilers jersey retired.
Shawn Horcoff and Jason Chimera also scored for the Oilers.
Jonathon Cheechoo and Wayne Primeau had San Jose goals.