Ondrej Pavelec the New Leader of the Atlanta Thrashers
With his 4-3-1 record thus far, Atlanta Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec is already having his best in his career with the team; and to throw in a little something on top of that, a .925 save percentage and a 2.66 GAA. His save percentage is good for fifth best after last weekend’s games.
With numbers like these, Pavelec is on pace to set new franchise goaltending records.
Pavelec and the Thrashers hit an early roadblock after starting out a franchise best 4-1-1. Following a shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on October 20th, the Thrashers lost three more games, including two against the division rival Washington Capitals.
All of their losses were only by one goal, with all fingers being pointed at the defense, specifically the goaltending.
It started with the first of two losses to the Capitals. It ended up being Pavelec’s worst game of the season. He gave up a total of five goals and was pulled at the 11:48 mark of the second period. He gave up three goals in 90 seconds, including a 90-plus-foot shot that bounced under his glove and through his legs.
Despite being down 5-2 at the beginning of the third period, the Thrashers continued to fight and got within one goal before the Capitals closed the door, making Pavelec’s blunder much more painful.
After the loss to the Capitals, Pavelec did not get the start in the Thrashers' next game against the San Jose Sharks. But, he did see action, as the Thrashers would replace the starting goalie for the second straight game. Johan Hedberg gave up four goals on 12 shots in only 29:19.
Pavelec stepped in and showed no signs of still thinking about his performance against Washington. He stopped all 12 shots that he faced, but the Thrashers fell short of their comeback, losing 3-4.
To make things worse, Atlanta’s captain, Ilya Kovalchuk, had to leave the game early following a puck striking his right foot. Later, the Thrashers would learn that their star was going to miss at four least weeks with a broken bone in his right foot.
Next, it would be the Capitals for their second squeaker past Atlanta. Pavelec played the entire game this time and did so exceptionally. He stopped 28 of 31 shots. However, the Thrashers offense did not come to life until the third period, and the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin had two goals, both in the opening period.
The Thrashers trailed 3-0 at the start of the final period and another comeback would go too little too late. They did score two goals in the period’s first 2:23, but the Capitals' defense quickly rebounded and fought off another Thrashers comeback before getting an empty netter with less than a minute to go for the nail-in-the-coffin. Atlanta’s Zach Bogosian scored on a backhand as time expired for a 4-3 final score.
Despite the four-game loosing streak, two losses to a division foe, and the loss of their captain for four weeks, the Thrashers bounced back with an impressive 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Halloween. Not only did the Thrashers put an end to their losing streak, they also got revenge on the team that gave them their first loss of the season.
Pavelec went nearly perfect on his way to setting a new career high with 50 saves on 51 shots. It comes as no surprise for Pavelec to have had such a night; since the Capitals game in which he got pulled, the 22-year-old has saved 90 of 94 shots, good for a .957 save percentage.
The Thrashers can, yet again, get revenge on one of their four defeats this season; they play Montreal tonight, who started their four-game losing streak after beating Atlanta in a shootout.
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