Since the calendar flipped to November, the Atlanta Thrashers have been allowing far too many shots on goal. They got away with it against the Florida Panthers two weeks ago but haven’t been as fortunate lately.
The Thrashers look to avoid losing for the sixth time in seven contests Wednesday night when they begin a season-high six-game homestand against the Panthers.
Atlanta (7-8-3) opened this month by beating Florida 4-3 on Nov. 3, but it wasn’t easy. Chris Mason(notes) made 52 saves, including 22 in the second period, as the Panthers (7-8-0) tied a franchise record of 55 shots set on Dec. 18, 2005.
Before that victory, the Thrashers had done a decent job of limiting opponents’ opportunities, but that hasn’t been the case lately. They are allowing an NHL-worst 37.1 shots per game this month, and their goaltenders are struggling with all of the excess work. Since beating Florida, Atlanta is 1-4-1, yielding 23 goals in those defeats.
In Sunday’s 6-4 loss to Washington, the Thrashers allowed a season high in goals, surrendering at least five for the third time in five games.
Despite another sluggish defensive performance, Atlanta managed to match the Capitals’ high-powered offense for 40 minutes, forging a 4-all tie with three goals in the second period, before being outshot 13-7 in the third. Bryan Little(notes) led the Thrashers with two goals, while Andrew Ladd(notes) added a goal and an assist and Rich Peverley(notes) scored his third of the season.
“Playing well is a good thing, but winning is better,” coach Craig Ramsay said. “Part of every learning experience is finding a way to finish it out. We have to understand how to play in those games, we have to want to be on the ice in those games and we have to want to make strong plays. All of this is a learning experience, but I would prefer that we would learn a bit quicker.”
While Mason has given up at least three goals in eight straight starts, Pavelec has a 1.92 goals-against average in his last four games and a 2.00 GAA in winning his two career starts against Florida.
The Thrashers are 5-2-0 against the Panthers since the start of last season and have won the last three meetings at Philips Arena.
Florida, 2-6-0 on the road, lost to Philadelphia 5-2 on Saturday in the opener of a four-game road trip.
Cory Stillman(notes) and Mike Santorelli(notes) each scored for the Panthers, who failed to notch a power-play goal for the sixth time in seven games. Florida is 2 for 24 with the man advantage on the road but now faces an Atlanta team which has given up a power-play goal in five straight games - opponents are 7 of 16 in that span.
Tomas Vokoun(notes), who has allowed one goal in winning each of his last two starts, is likely to be back in net after getting the day off Saturday. He made 19 saves in the loss to the Thrashers two weeks ago, but he’s 6-3-1 with a 2.73 GAA and one shutout in 11 starts against them since 2008-09.