NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, October 29th (All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (3-6-1) at Atlanta Thrashers (4-4-1), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Though he won't be in the starting lineup, the return of Ondrej Pavelec to the Thrashers' bench should still provide a lift to the club nonetheless.
With its young netminder nearing a return, Atlanta seeks a second straight victory this evening in a rematch with the Buffalo Sabres at Philips Arena.
Pavelec hasn't played since suffering a fainting spell in the club's season- opener back on Oct. 8. The 23-year-old hit his head on the ice when he collapsed, suffering a concussion, and on Thursday was recalled from a one- game conditioning stint in the American Hockey League.
Chris Mason relieved Pavelec in the season opener and has started all eight games since, going 4-4-1 with a 3.59 goals-against average on the season. With Atlanta set to visit St. Louis on Saturday, Mason is expected to start again tonight before Pavelec makes his return to a starting role tomorrow.
Mason will be going after his first career win over the Sabres after allowing four goals on 42 shots in a 4-1 home loss to them on Oct. 20. He is 0-4-0 with a 4.78 GAA versus the club lifetime.
Atlanta will also hope that Mason can backstop the club to a second straight win after snapping a three-game slide (0-2-1) with Wednesday's 6-4 road victory over the Rangers. Mason made 24 saves.
Six different Thrashers scored in the victory, with Niclas Bergfors and Andrew Ladd notching a goal and an assist each. Ladd extended his point streak to a career high-tying six games, totaling three goals and five helpers on the run.
Bergfors, Eric Boulton and Bryan Little all scored their first goals of the season, Dustin Byfuglien added his third and Evander Kane scored for the sixth time in Atlanta's first nine games.
"It shows that if we get the puck deep in the offensive zone we can create the chances," said Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay. "We have some people on the ice that can create the chances and put them away."
Buffalo's win over Atlanta last week snapped a four-game slide, but the club has lost two of three since. It's most recent outing came in Philadelphia on Tuesday and the Sabres were handed a 6-3 loss.
Thomas Vanek, Tyler Myers and Steve Montador all scored for the Sabres, who have dropped seven of their last nine games while splitting the first two contests of a four-game road trip. Derek Roy added a pair of assists and leads Buffalo with 11 points, while Ryan Miller allowed five goals on 33 shots faced.
"I've got to make some saves; bail guys out once in a while," Miller told NHL.com. "Mistakes are made, you just move on from them. I think we've taken everything really hard right now because we've had a few losses to start the season. Instead of rolling with the punches we get one mistake or one bad thing happens and the roof caves in and the world's ending. It takes us a little too long to get our composure back."
Miller made 17 saves in beating Atlanta earlier this year, improving to 9-2-4 with a 2.54 GAA when facing them lifetime. Vanek and Myers both scored in the last meeting and Vanek now has 14 goals and 20 points in 20 games against Atlanta.
Atlanta has still won seven of the last 10 meetings in the series overall, taking six of the last eight played at Philips Arena.
10/29 10:50:25 ET