Knee injury keeps Kane out of Thrashers lineup

PITTSBURGH -- Evander Kane missed his first game of the season Thursday night, with a left knee injury keeping the forward out of the lineup at Pittsburgh.

Freddy Meyer was in the lineup for the first time in 18 games as coach Craig Ramsay elected to play with seven defensemen.

Kane was hit by a shot from teammate Tobias Enstrom during the third period of Tuesday night's game against Colorado. Kane, who is second on the team with nine goals, took part in a portion of the team's morning skate while team trainers monitored him. He was pulled from the ice after 20 minutes.

“They are still working on [Kane] and we’re not going to put him in a bad situation if it’s not right,” Ramsay said prior to the game.

Meyer has not played since Oct. 23, when he suffered a mid-body injury. He was placed on injured reserve for the next six games and was a healthy scratch the next 11 games.

Ramsay put Meyer back in the lineup because of his play against Washington, and Alexander Ovechkin, before the injury. Pittsburgh features high-powered forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Meyer took Kane's spot on a forward line with Bryan Little and Anthony Stewart.

Meyer practiced with the team's forwards twice this season. He nearly came into the lineup as a forward on Nov. 17 against Florida, when Eric Boulton was questionable with a hand injury. Ironically in that game, Dustin Byfuglien left in the first period after being hit by a shot, leaving the team short a defenseman.

Forward Tim Stapleton has practiced twice with the team since he was signed this week. He and forward Fredrik Modin (ribs) were scratched along with Kane. Modin participated in a full on-ice morning workout Thursday.

Good goalie, smart coach

Ondrej Pavelec started his eighth consecutive game in goal on Thursday. He entered the game second in the NHL in save percentage (.948) and goals-against average (1.65). Over the Thrashers' six-game win streak, Pavelec allowed just five goals while he stopped 183 of 188 shots (.973 save percentage.)

“Amazing how smart a coach you are when your goalie plays really well,” Ramsay said. “And our goalie has played really well. We felt really confident going into the season that we were going to be really strong in net.”

Etc.

Byfuglien was named the NHL's third star for the month for November. He led all defensemen with 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 14 games and posted a plus-nine rating. Two of his goals were game-winners. ... Boulton appeared in his 500th career NHL game. ... Chris Thorburn and Arron Asham fought less than two minutes into the game.