TV replays showed Pavelec crouched in the goal crease at the far end of the ice with the Thrashers in the Capitals’ end. He went out of view of the camera, and when he returned to view he was down on the ice.
The game resumed after a lengthy delay for medical personnel to re-enter the arena.
Chris Mason replaced Pavelec in goal, and the Capitals scored seconds later. Brooks Laich scored after a give-and-go with Tomas Fleischmann and Alexander Semin.
“It was awful," Mason said. "You imagine [Pavelec's] family across the sea. They are probably following the game, and something like that happens. It must be a helpless feeling. It was tough. To be honest, I had trouble focusing when I first got in there. I couldn’t stop thinking about him.”
The rest of the team found out at the first intermission that Pavelec was OK.
“We got through the first period, and that was the hardest part," Mason said. "It was hard trying to focus and play a game and have that killer instinct and game mentality when you can’t stop thinking about your teammate.”
The Thrashers answered with an unassisted goal by Kane at the 7:57 mark of the first period. Kane made an individual move around the Washington defense and wristed a shot past goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
The Thrashers added two more goals in the second period. Andrew Ladd tipped in a shot from the point by Johnny Oduya for his first goal as a Thrasher at the 15:43 mark. Kane got his second goal of the game when he converted a penalty shot with 1:06 remaining. Washington defenseman Mike Green was called for covering the puck in the goal crease, setting up Kane’s second goal of the night.
“A lot of people were concerned that we didn’t win a game in the preseason, but I think we had the confidence in the room to know we were a better team than that, and we were able to show it tonight.”
The Capitals pulled within a goal with 11:44 left when Mike Knuble scored on an assist from Alexander Ovechkin on a two-on-one break.
Fredrik Modin iced the game for the Thrashers, scoring a goal with 5:00 remaining.
The Thrashers had lost eight consecutive games to the Capitals, including all six last season, their last win coming March 16, 2009.
“It’s something where you step up and play hard,” said Dustin Byfuglien, who spoke up in the dressing room to win the game for Pavelec. “He wouldn’t have quit working if it happened to someone else. We can’t do the same. We felt bad for him. As a team we had to come together and get the victory for him.”