ATLANTA - Tomas Fleischmann played six seasons for the Washington Capitals in the Southeast Division, so his transition since being shipped west to Colorado has been an easy one so far.
That's because in all four games he's played with the Avs -- in which Fleischmann has 4 points -- he has played against Southeast Division opponents. His first goal in an Avs' uniform, along with an assist, helped his new team end a four-game losing streak with a 4-2 win on Friday against the Atlanta Thrashers.
As good as the goal and the win felt, Fleischmann knows it would feel even better if he can duplicate that feat on Saturday when he and the Avs visit his former team.
"It's good to take the pressure off my shoulders and maybe keep going - tomorrow night," said Fleischmann, whom the Avs acquired from the Capitals in exchange for veteran defenseman Scott Hannan.
Asked if he were looking forward to visiting the Verizon Center and his former team, Fleischmann said, "Kind of. I think usually you do. But I know we have to play like a team like we did tonight. That's the only way we can succeed in there."
Fleischmann set up Milan Hejduk's team-leading 11th goal just 42 seconds into the third period. Atlanta failed on several attempts to clear its zone and Matt Duchene (two assists) drew two defenders to him before getting the puck to Fleischmann behind the net. Fleischmann found Hejduk out front and Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec could not locate the puck, allowing Hejduk to chip a shot into a wide-open net with Pavelec clinging to the opposite post.
Hejduk played only three shifts in the third period and a total of 1:29. He has been troubled by groin problems and coach Joe Sacco said he would be evaluated on Saturday.
To hold off Atlanta, which had won eight of nine entering Friday and saw a six-game home winning streak come to an end, Avs goalie Craig Anderson had to make two huge stops in the final 13 minutes of regulation.
The first came with 12:55 left on Anthony Stewart, who redirected a pass from the right side from Bryan Little, as Anderson - who said he was expecting a shot and not a pass - had to stretch with his left pad to stop the bang-bang play.
The more spectacular one came with 1:55 left when Ben Eager batted a puck out of the air and Anderson again flashed his left pad. The bouncing puck came just an inch or two from going over Anderson's paraphernalia for the equalizer.
"I just kind of saw it out of the corner of my eyes as it was going and just tried to get my pad to the post and made the save," said Anderson, who finished with 24 saves. "It was sitting there and kind of spun away and gave us an opportunity to clear the rebound."
Colorado has struggled without Chris Stewart, second among Avs forwards in points, out of the lineup with a broken hand, winning for just the second time in eight games (2-3-3). For Anderson, who has been out of the lineup twice this season with injuries, it was his first win since Nov. 19.
"Tonight was a tough game," Anderson said. "We took the play to them. We were playing some really good hockey, which didn't really generate much offense for them. They were on their heels most of the first period. We had a little breakdown where they had a good opportunity and they buried it. So it's always tougher to play those games when maybe you're not getting a whole lot of work and then they get a really good scoring chance.
"It was a good mental test of staying in the game and making sure when they did get their opportunities because we played really well and we didn't give them much."
As Anderson alluded to, Colorado outshot Atlanta 16-4 in the first period, but the Thrashers led 1-0 at first intermission on Niclas Bergfors' goal.
"It was the first time in a long time we had a few days off between games and we didn't react well," said Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay, whose team last played on Monday. "As the coach, I have to take a lot of the blame. Whether we practiced too hard or whatever, we were just not ready."
In the second period, Fleischmann's goal helped Colorado to tie it at 1-1 on a power play, as Rich Peverley went off for holding Kyle Quincey behind the Avs' net. A Thrashers' clearing try hit linesman Brian Murphy in the neutral zone, starting Colorado's breakout. Fleischmann carried the puck into Atlanta's zone and put a hard shot on net. Pavelec stopped that one and got Duchene's rebound, but Fleischmann put the puck through the goalie's legs at 4:39.
Colorado went up 2-1 at 11:01 of the second period as Greg Mauldin victimized Atlanta for its first shorthanded goal allowed of the season after Dustin Byfuglien misplayed a puck in the neutral zone.
Atlanta tied the game at 2-2 at 15:13 when Little blasted a slap shot from the right circle past Anderson off a 3-on-2 rush.
Down 3-2 late, the Thrashers had a chance to tie the game, earning their third power play of the game at 18:36 of the third when Phillippe Dupuis was called for tripping Alexander Burmistrov. Ramsay opted to pull Pavelec for a 6-on-4 but Paul Stastny scored an empty-net, shorthanded goal with 38 seconds left.
The Thrashers, owner of the League's second-best power play, went 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
|Niclas Bergfors (7) ASST: Andrew Ladd (19), Dustin Byfuglien (20)|
1 - 0 ATL
|PPG - Tomas Fleischmann (5) ASST: Matt Duchene (17)|
1 - 1 Tie
|SHG - Greg Mauldin (4) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 COL
|Bryan Little (6) ASST: Evander Kane (8)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Milan Hejduk (11) ASST: Tomas Fleischmann (9), Matt Duchene (18)|
3 - 2 COL
|SHG - EN - Paul Stastny (11) ASST: NONE|
4 - 2 COL
|Johnny Oduya Cross checking against John-Michael Liles|
|Rich Peverley Holding against Kyle Quincey|
|Chris Thorburn Holding against Daniel Winnik|
|Paul Stastny Tripping against Johnny Oduya|
|Brandon Yip Tripping against Johnny Oduya|
|Philippe Dupuis Tripping against Alexander Burmistrov|
|Evander Kane Misconduct (10 min)|
|Adam Foote Unsportsmanlike conduct against Chris Thorburn|
|Chris Thorburn Unsportsmanlike conduct|