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Atlanta Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec will stay in hospital at least one night after collapsing and losing consciousness early in the first period of a home game against the Washington Capitals on Friday.

Pavelec fell backward to the ice just over two minutes into the game, with play up ice in the Washington end at Phillips Arena.

Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley said in the second intermission that Pavelec was awake and in stable condition at a local hospital.

The team said in a release shortly after that initial tests had come up negative as to a possible cause of the collapse and that the 23-year-old would be kept in hospital for observation.

Atlanta went on to win the game 4-2.

Pavelec fell and lay motionless on the ice with his arms spread out as medical personnel hurried to reach him. After nearly 10 minutes, the netminder was wheeled out on a stretcher.

The native of Kladno, Czech Republic, took over the team's No. 1 goaltending duties last season, playing 42 games with a .906 save percentage and 3.29 goals-against average.

He was taken 41st overall by the Thrashers in the 2005 draft. For his career, he is 20-28-7 with two shutouts in 61 games.

Play resumed after about 20 minutes, with replacement Chris Mason greeted by a Washington goal from Brooks Laich just 53 seconds later.

But the Thrashers shut down Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the high-scoring Capitals for nearly 45 minutes, scoring three straight goals to seize control against the team that posted the NHL's best record last season but was upset in the opening round of the playoffs by Montreal.

Craig Ramsay earned the victory in his first game as Thrashers coach.

About 4½ minutes after Laich's goal, Evander Kane picked off the puck just inside the Washington blue-line, skated around Tomas Fleischmann and ripped a wrist shot over Michal Neuvirth's right leg.

The 19-year-old Kane, expected to play a larger role for the Thrashers after scoring 14 goals his rookie season, scored again on a penalty shot at 18:54 of the second period to make it 3-1. Mike Green grabbed the puck in the crease during a wild scramble in front of the net, sliding it clear with his left hand.

The officials saw it, awarding Kane a penalty shot against Neuvirth. The youngster deked like he was going to the backhand and flipped the puck over the goalie's pad.

The red light came on late in the first period, appearing to signal a 2-1 lead for the Thrashers, after Rich Peverley poked the puck away from Michal Neuvirth while he was covering it. The officials waved it off, saying the goalie had frozen the puck, and a wild melee erupted in the corner when John Erskine went after Peverley, jumping on his back and taking him down.

Kane and Washington's Eric Fehr also jumped into the mix, but no serious punches were thrown before the linesmen stepped in. Peverley was sent off for slashing, while the other three received roughing penalties.

It wasn't until 15:43 of the second that the Thrashers did go ahead for the first time. Andrew Ladd, one of the four players acquired from Stanley Cup-champion Chicago over the summer, was stopped on a shot while alone in front of the net. But Johnny Oduya kept the puck in at the blue-line, fired another shot toward the goal and Ladd deflected it past Neuvirth.

Ovechkin finally broke through in the third, sending a perfect pass to Mike Knuble, who flipped a shot just under the crossbar to beat Mason.

But the Thrashers clinched it with five minutes remaining.

Another newcomer, Fredrik Modin, beat Neuvirth to restore the two-goal margin.

With files from CBCSports.ca