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Pavelec has concussion, headache after collapse

NHL.com @NHL

ATLANTA (AP) - Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec has a concussion and remained hospitalized Saturday undergoing additional tests to determine why he collapsed in the season opener.

While his team headed off to play a game at Tampa Bay, doctors tried to determine what caused Pavelec to suddenly fall back on the ice in a frightening incident just 2 1/2 minutes into Friday night's win over the Washington Capitals.

The 23-year-old Pavelec had a headache from his concussion, which may have been caused by striking the back of his head on the ice. But that wouldn't necessarily explain why he collapsed in the first place.

"I was in shock," said Thrashers forward Evander Kane, who scored twice in a game that resumed after a delay of about 20 minutes. "You never want to see anything like that happen, whether it's the guys on your team or the other team.

"We wanted to win it for him."

With play at the opposite end, Pavelec suddenly fell backward with no one around. The team said he was unconscious when taken off on a stretcher, but he came to at the hospital and even asked how the Thrashers were doing. They beat the Capitals 4-2 with Chris Mason taking over in the net, making 29 saves.

"We were all looking at the other end of the ice," coach Craig Ramsay said. "I don't know of anybody who saw it from the bench."

Even though they signed Mason over the summer, the Thrashers believe Pavelec has the potential to develop into the sort of top-flight goalie the team has lacked for its entire NHL history.

He signed a two-year deal in the offseason after going 14-18-7 with a 3.29 goals-against average and two shutouts in 42 games. It was his first full season in the NHL.

Pavelec also was a member of the Czech Republic's team at this year's Vancouver Olympics.

"It's hard to even think about playing when something like that happens," Mason said. "Your heart just sinks. It's an awful feeling."

Pavelec's collapse also affected Washington's Michal Neuvirth, another goalie from the Czech Republic.

"He's a good friend of mine," Neuvirth said. "I hope he's OK. It was hard to get focused after that."

The incident rekindled memories of Detroit defenseman Jiri Fischer collapsing on the bench during a 2005 game. He had been diagnosed with a heart abnormality three years earlier, and medical personnel had to use an auto defibrillator to restart his heart.

Fischer retired after his collapse.

There was no indication that Pavelec needed such dramatic medical treatment or was suffering from a similar ailment.

In the meantime, the Thrashers called up Drew MacIntyre from their affiliate in Chicago to back up Mason, who figures to get the bulk of the playing time until Pavelec is cleared to return.

"We have to (call up another goalie) unless one of the players wants to suit up, and not many of them want to get in there and face their own shots," Ramsay quipped.

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