Despite schedule, Thrashers not looking too far ahead

RALEIGH -- The Thrashers started a five-game stretch Saturday night against teams currently below them in the Eastern Conference standings.

Thrashers coach John Anderson isn't looking that far ahead. Not for his team that entered play 11th in the conference, but only three points out of the seventh spot.

“Every game is so important,” Anderson said. “We have to look at it as an individual thing. You can only win one [at a time].”

The Thrashers opened the run with Carolina, which they also play at home Thursday. They will go up against Florida, Tampa Bay and Toronto in the next week.

Pavelec back in goal

Ondrej Pavelec got his third consecutive start in goal Saturday after back-to-back 30 save performances. Pavelec stopped 30 in a 6-1 win over Ottawa and a 2-1 overtime loss to Buffalo.

“We are looking for someone to step up and try to win us a game,” Anderson said. “He seemed to play very, very well lately, so we’ll run with him.”

No rest for Ward

Cam Ward started his 15th consecutive game in goal for Carolina on Saturday.

In the past nine starts, Ward has registered a 2.19 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. The Hurricanes are 5-3-1 record in that span.

“Their goalie is excellent,” Anderson said. “Ward, when he gets hot, is tough to beat.”

Ward entered Saturday's game one win shy of tying the franchise record for wins by a goaltender. Arturs Irbe holds the mark with 130.

Ward missed 13 games from Nov. 11-Dec. 7, after being cut on the leg by the skate of Columbus' Rick Nash on Nov. 7.

Carolina's backup goaltender is Manny Legace. The 11-year NHL veteran was in Thrashers training camp on a pro tryout before being released. Legace started the lone game between the teams this season, with Ward out. The Thrashers scored five third-period goals (one an empty netter) in a 6-4 win in November.

White out again

Center Todd White was a scratch for the second consecutive game. White injured his right leg against Ottawa on Tuesday. He missed most of the first period but returned to score a goal in the second. White said he feels fine, and Anderson said he kept him out of Thursday's game against Buffalo as a precaution. The Thrashers other scratches were defensemen Anssi Salmela and Mark Popovic (foot).

Make way for basketball

The Thrashers did not hold a morning skate Saturday. They couldn’t have done so on a basketball court. North Carolina State hosted Clemson in an ACC men’s game at the RBC Center at noon.