Atlanta will try to add to its recent dominance of Buffalo while winning its third straight and extending the Sabres’ skid to six Wednesday night.
Pavelec fainted 2 1/2 minutes into the season opener Oct. 8 and suffered a concussion when the back of his head struck the ice. The 23-year-old practiced Tuesday for the first time since the injury but there’s no timetable for his return.
Chris Mason(notes) has played every minute in Pavelec’s absence and made a season-high 37 saves in Saturday’s 4-2 victory over San Jose as the Thrashers completed a four-game trip. The previous day, he helped Atlanta avoid a third straight loss with a 5-4 shootout win against Anaheim.
After reaching the playoffs once in its 10 seasons, Atlanta (3-2-0) has looked to a pair of former Buffalo players - general manager Rick Dudley and coach Craig Ramsay - to changes its fortunes.
Their former club, meanwhile, is 0-4-1 since a season-opening 2-1 victory in Ottawa on Oct. 8. A 4-3 loss in Chicago on Saturday marked the Sabres’ fourth straight one-goal defeat.
Buffalo (1-4-1) couldn’t hold on to a pair of one-goal leads and allowed the Blackhawks to go ahead with 7:08 remaining.
“We had all kinds of opportunities. We just didn’t take advantage of our key opportunities,” coach Lindy Ruff said.
That loss came five days after another 4-3 defeat to Chicago in which Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson(notes) delivered a blind-side check on Pominville, who has scored at least 20 goals in four consecutive seasons and appeared in 335 consecutive games before suffering a concussion.
Like Pavelec, Pominville worked out Tuesday for the first time since his injury and his return date isn’t known.
Without Pominville, Buffalo will try to build on its offensive effort in its previous game and give expected starting goaltender Ryan Miller(notes) some more support. After posting a 4.10 goals-against average in his first three games, Miller has a 1.49 GAA in his past two, but his teammates have scored once.
After resting Saturday, Miller will try to give a better effort than in his previous trip to Atlanta. He was pulled after giving up three goals in less than six minutes in a 4-3 loss March 16.
Miller is 8-2-4 with a 2.65 GAA in 16 starts against the Thrashers, going 3-1-2 at Philips Arena despite a 3.16 GAA. The Sabres, who haven’t lost six straight since an 0-4-2 skid Feb. 1-11, are 1-2-4 in their last seven trips to Atlanta.
The Thrashers are also 7-0-2 in their last nine overall against Buffalo, but Mason has lost in each of his three appearances versus the Sabres while posting a 5.14 GAA—his highest against any team he’s faced more than once.