Thrashers loss snaps home win streak at six

Ondrej Pavelec had no chance.

Colorado converted a quick pass and shot into a goal 42 seconds into the third period en route to a 4-2 victory over the Thrashers Friday night at Philips Arena. The Thrashers goaltender never saw the game-winner, which was set up with the Thrashers stuck behind their net. Tomas Fleischmann got the puck and sent an easy pass in front of the goal that Milan Hejduk buried with a quick one-timer.

The Thrashers (15-11-3, 33 points) lost for only the second time in the past 10 games. They also had their six-game home win streak snapped, one shy of tying the franchise record.

“We weren’t ready for the game,” said Pavelec, who had 25 saves. “In the first two periods we didn’t shoot the puck and didn’t go to the net. We played a great third period, but it wasn’t enough.”

Colorado (14-10-4, 32 points) avenged last month’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Thrashers. They also snapped a four-game losing streak with the win. But the Avalanche's blind-side game-winner still hurt long into the night.

“The key to that one was we won the face off and turned the puck over,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. “We talk all time about [allowing] nothing out the short side because the goalie is trying to react. They threw it out the short side and the ‘D' moved from the front of the net out to the wrong side and [Hejduk] was all by himself.

"That was a key error. You can’t let something come out the short side because it’s really tough for a goaltender. He has a tough time reacting to that.”

Ben Eager nearly tied the game with 1:54 left but his shot at the doorstep was stopped by the pad of Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson.

“The puck was bouncing there and I got a piece of it,” Eager said of the near equalizer. “The goalie made a great save.”

The Avalanche added an empty-netter with 1:14 remaining. The goal came seconds after the Thrashers were playing with a 6-on-4 advantage, with a power play and Pavelec on the bench for an extra skater.

“Six-on-four, you shouldn’t be scored on,” Ramsay said. “That’s a man each and two extras. You should be able to handle that. We were surprised that they chased us. That’s just kind of crazy.”

Bryan Little tied the game at 2-2, sending the team’s into the final period all square. Evander Kane corralled an Avalanche shot that went wide of the net and raced up the left side.After entering the Thrashers offensive zone, he slid a cross-ice pass to Little, who beat Anderson for his sixth goal of the season with 4:47 left in the second period.

The Avalanche took a 2-1 lead after a pair of special-team goals in the second period. Fleischmann scored on power-play goal 4:39 into the period with Rich Peverley in the penalty box for holding. Just over six minutes later, with the Thrashers on the man-advantage, Dustin Byfuglien misplayed a puck in the neutral zone that sent the Avalanche’s Greg Mauldin racing in on Pavelec. He snapped a shot into the back of the net for the first short-handed goal allowed this season by the Thrashers, the last team in the league to do so.

The Thrashers scored first for the 13th time in the past 16 games and Niclas Bergfors got things started. With defenseman Byfuglien with the puck deep in the left corner, he slid a pass to Andrew Ladd. The forward settled the puck with his skates and passed to Bergfors, who shoved the puck under Anderson. The goal, Bergfors’ seventh, put the Thrashers up 5:37 into the game. The Thrashers had been outshot 8-0 before scoring on their first salvo.

With the assists, Byfuglien has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) and Ladd has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in the past 10 games. Byfuglien now also has a three-game assist streak.

The Thrashers immediately take right to the road, starting a three-game road trip Saturday night at the New York Islanders.