Thrashers-Blues Preview

When St. Louis acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak in June, he

was thought to be the key piece needed to help make a deep playoff

run next spring.

Atlanta, meanwhile, is relieved just to now have a healthy

Ondrej Pavelec back in net.

Halak will try to record his third straight shutout, and the

Blues seek their fourth consecutive win Saturday night against the

Thrashers, who are expected to have Pavelec start his first game

following an on-ice fainting spell in the club’s season opener.

Acquired from Montreal after helping backstop the Canadiens to

the Eastern Conference finals, Halak is 5-1-1 with a 1.55

goals-against average. He also hasn’t let a puck into the net in

150 minutes, 35 seconds since Chicago’s Brent Seabrook beat him in

St. Louis’ 4-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup champions Oct.

22.

“(Halak) is such a fun goalie to watch,” Blues defenseman Erik

Johnson said. “He looks like he is not even trying. He is so

effortless in his motion. There is no wasted energy with him.

“We feel so confident with him back there because he’s so cool,

calm and collected. We know we can go on offense and he’ll be back

there if we have any hiccups. He has been a great, great asset for

us.”

On Sunday, Halak made 19 of his 31 saves in the second period as

St. Louis (5-1-2) defeated Pittsburgh 1-0 in overtime on a goal by

Johnson. Facing Central Division rival Nashville on Thursday, Halak

showed no rust and stopped 24 shots in the 3-0 victory.

“It feels great, but I didn’t come into the game thinking about

the last shutout,” Halak said. “I was just thinking about trying to

help the guys win the game. It is even more special when it is a

shutout.”

St. Louis’ franchise record for the longest shutout streak is

186 minutes, 15 seconds by Manny Legace from Dec. 28, 2007-Jan. 8,

2008.

Last season with Montreal, Halak didn’t record a shutout against

the Thrashers (5-4-1). However, he beat them twice, including a

career high-tying 47-save effort in a 4-3 overtime victory Dec.

21.

Pavelec will try to lead Atlanta to a season-high third

consecutive win as he’s slated to play his first NHL game since

fainting 2 1/2 minutes into a 4-2 win over Washington on Oct.

8.

During a break in the action, Pavelec appeared to wave toward

the bench, fell backwards and suffered a concussion when his head

hit the ice.

“The last thing I remember (is) the national anthem until I woke

up in the ambulance,” Pavelec said Oct. 19.

He stopped 19 of 22 shots Thursday in an AHL rehab stint as

Chicago lost 4-1 to Oklahoma City. Pavelec’s only career win in two

starts against St. Louis came at the Scottrade Center on Oct. 8,

2009, when he turned away 29 shots in the 4-2 victory.

The Thrashers are coming off a 4-3 overtime win against Buffalo

on Friday. Dustin Byfuglien split two defenders and scored at 4:31

of the extra session after Atlanta’s Chris Mason – who Halak

replaced as the Blues starter – gave up Derek Roy’s game-tying goal

with eight seconds to play in regulation.

“I knew I was going to shoot for sure,” Byfuglien said. “I just

didn’t know where.”

The Thrashers are 5-1-0 with a tie in their last seven visits to

St. Louis after losing five straight there.