In its last game, Atlanta started strong and came away with a decisive win over one of the league’s top teams.
Next, the Thrashers will face a franchise trying to avoid the longest losing streak in its history
Atlanta looks to continue its solid play Sunday against the New York Islanders, who hope to avoid dropping their 13th straight game.
The Thrashers had lost three in a row heading into Friday’s contest with Alex Ovechkin(notes) and Washington. However, Ondrej Pavelec(notes) turned away 29 shots, and Ben Eager(notes), Nik Antropov(notes) and Evander Kane(notes) scored in the first 9:07 to help the Thrashers roll past the high-scoring Capitals 5-0.
“They are one of the best teams in the NHL,” Pavelec said. “If you play hard against them, you can beat them. We showed a lot of character and we showed we can play great hockey against the best teams.”
They’ll now face the worst in New York (4-12-3), which saw its skid reach 12 with a 4-1 loss to Florida on Saturday.
Though the Islanders have the fewest points in the league, the Thrashers could face a bit of a challenge on both ends of the ice.
After relying for years on Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) - now with New Jersey - to provide much of the offense, the Thrashers (8-9-3) now have a more balanced unit. Eight players have at least 10 points, led by new captain Andrew Ladd(notes) (seven goals, 12 assists) and Dustin Byfuglien(notes) (six goals, 11 assists), who both won a Stanley Cup last season with Chicago.
A change may be made in goal, too. Despite coming off his first shutout in nearly a year, Pavelec was 0-2-0 with a 4.94 goals-against average against the Islanders in 2009-10.
That could mean Chris Mason(notes) would make his first start since being pulled early in the second period of a 6-4 loss to the Capitals last Sunday. The former Predator and Blue is 2-1-0 with a 1.95 GAA in three career starts against New York.
For the Islanders, firing Scott Gordon for Jack Capuano has not resulted in any immediate positive results. New York has been outscored 8-3 in two games under the former AHL coach, and 46-17 during the losing streak.
“The second period cost us the game,” Capuano said.
The Islanders were 0 for 4 on the power play, and are 0 for 20 over their last five games.
Though he melted down against Florida, Roloson could be in line to start again - he’s 3-0-0 with a 3.23 GAA over five career starts in Atlanta. Rick DiPietro(notes) has allowed 17 goals while losing his last three starts overall.
New York could become the third team since the start of last season to lose 13 in a row. Edmonton dropped that many from Dec. 31-Jan. 30 en route to finishing with the NHL’s worst record in 2009-10, and eventually the right to pick first overall in the June draft. Carolina lost 14 in a row from Oct. 10-Nov. 13, 2009, with the last of those defeats a 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders.
The Islanders took the first three games against the Thrashers last season, but failed to complete the sweep after falling 6-3 on March 4 at Philips Arena.