THRASHERS (7-6-1) at RANGERS (10-7-1)
Last 10 -- Thrashers (4-5-1); Rangers (3-6-1)
Season series -- This is the first of four meetings between the teams this season. The Rangers and Thrashers split their four games last season.
Big story -- Will he or won't he? Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta's captain, attempted to skate Wednesday, but he felt pain in his broken right foot and quickly left the ice. However, hours after the team had said Kovalchuk would not make the trip to New York -- and with some help from a weather delay -- a team spokesman said Kovalchuk opted to make the trip to New York and see how he feels Thursday. Kovalchuk was tied for the NHL lead when he went down with the broken foot against San Jose on Oct. 24.
Thrashers -- In the six games since Kovalchuk took a shot off his foot in a game against the Sharks, the team has held its own. The Thrashers are 3-3-0 and coming off a dramatic 3-2 comeback win against the Blues. And the offense is coming from the defense.
"I am aware of it," coach John Anderson said following Sunday's win when asked about his team's last seven goals coming from defensemen. "Good thing the forwards scored in the shootout."
After forward Bryan Little scored in the second period against Columbus on Thursday, the Thrashers have gotten goals from Tobias Enstrom and Pavel Kubina against the Blue Jackets; Zach Bogosian, Kubina and Christoph Schubert against the New York Islanders; Enstrom and Ron Hainsey against St. Louis.
Rangers -- Injuries are mounting in Manhattan. Brandon Dubinsky's broken hand will keep him out for about a month. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (thigh) and captain Chris Drury (concussion) are questionable for this game.
"It's a time that we're trying to get anybody with some soreness or any type of problems, to try to get them some rest," coach John Tortorella said. "That's what we're trying to do with some of the bumps and bruises as we go through it."
When asked if he would be able to play tonight, Lundqvist deferred to Tortorella and said, "It's not perfect. I'm still trying to get it 100 percent."
Who's hot -- Besides the red-hot blueliners of the Thrashers, how about Rich Peverely's great play? The 27-year-old center has 17 points in 14 games this season and 2 goals and 4 assists in his past 5 games. For the Rangers, it's always Marian Gaborik, who has 4 points (2 goals) in 4 games since returning from an undisclosed injury that cost him two games.
Injury report -- Besides Kovalchuk, the Thrashers could be without rookie Evander Kane, who was seen limping badly following Atlanta's win against St. Louis. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen had surgery on his back last week and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. For the banged-up Rangers, Donald Brashear's wrist could be feeling well enough to get him back in the lineup.
Stat pack -- The Rangers' Ales Kotalik leads the team in power-play points (12), but is a team-worst minus-6 and has just three points at even strength. The Thrashers haven't beaten the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in regulation since Jan. 20, 2007, a span of five games.
Puck drop -- "It's tough to watch from upstairs. It's tough because you can't help. I can see where management and [GM] Don [Waddell are coming from]. It's tougher to sit upstairs than to play." -- Kovalchuk, on watching the game while he's recuperating.
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