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|24 сентября 2009
Antropov gives team high hopes: Free-agent addition picks up goal, assist // The Atlanta Journal - Constitution.
With a round of cuts coming Thursday, Thrashers officials face some tough roster questions with just days to go in the preseason.
How Nik Antropov fits is not one of them.
For the second exhibition game in a row, the prized free-agent acquisition of the offseason shined for the Thrashers with a goal and an assist in the team's 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night at Philips Arena. In two games, Antropov, sharing the top line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Bryan Little, has five points.
Said coach John Anderson, "Kovy and him have got something going. . . . We want him to be the 100-point guy that everybody thought he was supposed to be in Toronto. We're going to give him that opportunity here, and he seems well on his way."
Kovalchuk fed Antropov for the second-period goal. Kovalchuk carried the puck for several seconds, making a big loop around the offensive zone before slipping a pass to Antropov as he came through the slot. Antropov put a wrist shot past Nashville goalie Dan Ellis.
Said Kovalchuk, "It's easy to play with good players."
The more unlikely star was enforcer Josh Gratton, who scored two goals, as many as he has scored in the past three seasons.
Said Gratton, "I try to be the first star every game, but usually it's with my fists, not my goal scoring."
Another addition under examination for the Thrashers was speedy forward Maxim Afinogenov, brought in last Friday for a pro tryout. His opportunities were limited --- his ice time was third-lowest on the team --- and he was playing with new linemates (rookie Evander Kane and Tim Stapleton), but he showed Anderson enough.
"I thought he played really well," Anderson said. "He'll play more in regular-season games. It's just the way it went tonight with so many penalties in the game [against the Thrashers]. He's not a penalty-killer."
Said Afinogenov, who has been hampered by injuries in recent years but four seasons ago scored 73 points for the Buffalo Sabres, "Definitely, I can do more than that, but for the first game, it was enough."
Goalie Ondrej Pavelec also passed muster for Anderson. Pavelec, competing with Johan Hedberg, Drew MacIntyre and pro-tryout invitee Manny Legace for a spot on the roster as Kari Lehtonen recovers from offseason back surgery, helped the Thrashers thwart seven of eight Nashville power plays. The Predators scored two goals in the final three minutes and nearly tied the game, but Anderson largely absolved his goalie.
"I thought pretty much he was in front of pucks all night," Anderson said. "He's got to work on handling pucks a little bit better, but I did like him. I don't think three of the goals he had a chance on."