After shock of goalie’s collapse, Thrashers rally to beat Capitals 4-2 behind Kane’s 2 goals

By Paul Newberry, AP
Friday, October 8, 2010

After goalie’s collapses, Thrashers beat Caps 4-2

ATLANTA — After watching their goalie inexplicably collapse to the ice in the opening minutes, the Atlanta Thrashers bounced back to beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 on Friday night behind two goals from Evander Kane.

The excitement of opening night at Philips Arena turned somber just 2½ minutes into the game when Ondrej Pavelec suddenly fell over backward during a stoppage at the other end of the ice.

He was treated for about 10 minutes on the ice before being wheeled off on a stretcher. He was taken to a local hospital, where preliminary tests were negative and Pavelec regained consciousness.

“He’s awake, alert and asking about the score of the game, but will be kept overnight for observation,” the team said in a statement.

After an overall delay of about 20 minutes, Chris Mason took over in the net for the Thrashers and surrendered a goal to Brooks Laich less than a minute later.

But the Thrashers shut down Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the high-scoring Capitals for nearly 45 minutes, scoring three straight goals to seize control against the team that posted the NHL’s best record last season but was upset in the opening round of the playoffs by Montreal.

Craig Ramsay earned the victory in his first game as Thrashers coach.

About 4½ minutes after Laich’s goal, Kane picked off the puck just inside the Washington blue line, skated around Tomas Fleischmann and ripped a wrist shot over Michal Neuvirth’s right leg.

The 19-year-old Kane, expected to play a larger role for the Thrashers after scoring 14 goals his rookie season, scored again on a penalty shot at 18:54 of the second period to make it 3-1. Mike Green grabbed the puck in the crease during a wild scramble in front of the net, sliding it clear with his left hand.

The officials saw it, awarding Kane a one-on-one shot against Neuvirth. The youngster deked like he was going to the backhand and flipped the puck over the goalie’s pad.

The red light came on late in the first period, appearing to signal a 2-1 lead for the Thrashers, after Rich Peverley poked the puck away from Neuvirth while he was covering it. The officials waved it off, saying the goalie had frozen the puck, and a wild melee erupted in the corner when John Erskine went after Peverley, jumping on his back and taking him down.

Kane and Washington’s Eric Fehr also jumped into the mix, but no serious punches were thrown before the linesmen stepped in. Peverley was sent off for slashing, while the other three received roughing penalties.

It wasn’t until 15:43 of the third that the Thrashers did go ahead for the first time. Andrew Ladd, one of the four players acquired from Stanley Cup-champion Chicago over the summer, was stopped on a shot while all alone in front of the net. But Johnny Oduya kept the puck in at the blue line, fired another shot toward the goal and Ladd deflected it past Neuvirth.

Ovechkin finally broke through in the third, sending a perfect pass to Mike Knuble, who flipped a shot just under the crossbar to beat Mason.

But the Thrashers clinched it with 5 minutes remaining. Another newcomer, Fredrik Modin, beat Neuvirth to restore the Thrashers’ two-goal margin.

NOTES: The attendance-challenged Thrashers, who ranked near the bottom of the league last season, put up a black curtain to block off a couple of thousand seats in the upper deck.

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