OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators won’t be anxious to see Ondrej Pavelec any time soon.
The Atlanta Thrashers goalie stopped 50 shots en route to a 3-1 win over the Senators on Saturday.
“Right now I feel like Jacque Plante 50 years ago,” said Pavelec, whose helmet flew off after taking a puck to the face.
The 22-year-old was outstanding for the Thrashers and the only reason they were able to leave Ottawa with a victory as his teammates managed just 21 shots.
“He was fabulous,” said Thrashers head coach John Anderson. “One of the best games I’ve ever seen in goal. He made us win.”
Prior to this season Pavelec had played just 19 games in the NHL and wasn’t expected to be the Thrashers starting goaltender, but with Kari Lehtonen requiring back surgery Pavelec has run with the opportunity.
The win allowed the Thrashers (5-4-1) to put an end to a four-game losing streak.
“We didn’t play well at all,” said Rich Peverley, who scored the Thrashers’ second goal. “At times it felt like we were just standing around. (Pavelec) handed us the win, he was tremendous.”
The Senators outshot the Thrashers 25-3 in the third period, but still couldn’t beat Pavelec.
The Thrashers, who lately have struggled early in games, took control of the game jumping out to a 2-0 lead after two periods on goals by Zach Bogosian and Peverley. Maxim Afinogenov also scored for the Thrashers.
Pascal Leclaire, who stopped 18 shots, could hardly be blamed for the loss as he was the victim of a couple of unlucky bounces. Mike Fisher scored the lone goal for the Senators (6-4-2).
“A couple of bounces didn’t go our way and it was just unfortunate,” said Leclaire. “The guys played a great game and we just ran into a hot goalie.”
The Senators struggled in their own end and they paid the price.
Both Atlanta goals were scored after the Senators failed to win faceoffs in their own end.
On the first goal Marty Reasoner beat Nick Foligno cleanly and dropped the puck to Bogosian who had scored before Leclaire even reacted.
“It was the start we wanted to get,” said Bogosian. “We got a greasy road win and came out with a ‘W”‘.
The Thrashers made it 2-0 in the second despite being outshot 18-5.
This time Peverley won the draw and after a battle along the boards Nik Antropov threw it out front where Peverley got a piece of it before it bounced in off Ottawa’s Chris Campoli.
Prior to Saturday’s game the Senators had the fourth worst faceoff winning percentage in the league.
The Senators finally scored with less than five minutes remaining with a two-man advantage as Fisher squeezed one in from the side of the net.
“We did some good things and worked hard, but just didn’t get some of the breaks we needed to,” said Fisher. “One of those games where you run into a hot goalie and can’t do anything about it.”
Afinogenov put the game out of reach as he beat Leclaire through the legs with just over one minute remaining.
The Senators, losers of their last two, will have a few days to work on things before they play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
Notes: The Senators were without C Jason Spezza (back, day-to-day) and D Anton Volchenkov (elbow, 2-3 weeks). The Thrashers were without LW Ilya Kovalchuk (broken foot, four weeks), D Boris Valabik (ankle, 4-6 weeks), G Kari Lehtonen (back surgery, undetermined) and D Ron Hainsey (undisclosed, day-to-day). C Jason Krog was a healthy scratch.