ATLANTA — Ondrej Pavelec will have much fonder memories of this outing against the Washington Capitals than his opening night appearance in which he fainted and left with a concussion.
Pavelec stopped 29 shots to earn his third NHL shutout, and Evander Kane, Nik Antropov and Ben Eager had a goal and assist each as the Atlanta Thrashers beat the Capitals 5-0 on Friday night and snapped Washington’s nine-game point streak.
“The guys helped to block the shots in front of me, and I always saw the first shot and (his teammates) had the rebound,” Pavelec said. “Overall, it was a great team effort.”
The NHL-leading Capitals were shut out for the first time since Dec. 9 at Buffalo. Washington (14-5-1) had 10 wins and 21 points in its first 12 games, but missed a chance at a 15th victory that would’ve been the Capitals’ best 20-game start.
Pavelec, who fainted early in the season-opening home victory over Washington on Oct. 8, improved to 2-4-2. He sustained a concussion that night when his head struck the ice as he fell.
After extensive tests showed no serious medical problems, Pavelec returned after missing seven games. He won just one of his next five starts before losing Sunday at Washington.
“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.”
Atlanta had won only one of its last seven, but the Thrashers took a 3-0 lead in the first period on Eager’s third goal, Antropov’s fifth and Kane’s eighth.
Dustin Byfuglien made it 4-0 in the final minute of the second period with his sixth goal, and Alexander Burmistrov finished the scoring when he netted his third late in the final frame.
Capitals forward Alexander Semin had his nine-game point streak broken.
Eager, benched for all but one shift of the third period in Atlanta’s loss Wednesday to Florida, made it 1-0 with a tip-in 2:42 into the first.
After Antropov’s backhander gave the Thrashers a 2-0 lead at 8:52, Kane scored 15 seconds later with a wrist shot from the right wing boards.
Five of Kane’s eight goals have been scored against the Capitals. This one chased goalie Braden Holtby, who faced only five shots.
“Holtby struggled, as some young guys do, and they had a lot of confidence and they kept playing well,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Every time we tried to make a push, they would beat it back and they’d score goals at opportune times.”
Andrew Ladd, chosen as team captain on Thursday by Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay, assisted on Burmistrov’s goal.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 29 of 31 shots for the Capitals. Holtby dropped to 2-1-1.
Alex Ovechkin, the NHL goals leader in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, recorded three shots and had five attempts blocked.
“I think in the second period we played good hockey but just didn’t score the goal,” Ovechkin said. “They scored on their one chance on the Byfuglien goal, and 4-0 after two periods is tough especially when they put all five guys in the defensive zone.”