Season series: First of six meetings this season between these Southeast Division rivals. They split their games on the 2009-10 schedule, with Carolina’s Jussi Jokinen leading all scorers with 6 goals. Rich Peverley paced Atlanta with 4 goals. Cam Ward was 2-1 in net for the Hurricanes, while Ondrej Pavelec went 2-2 for the Thrashers.
Big story: Both teams are coming off thrilling finishes in divisional games Wednesday -- though the Thrashers didn’t get the result they wanted, falling 2-1 in a shootout to the Lightning. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, used a three-goal third period to rally for a 4-3 win over the Panthers.
Hurricanes: It was a brief and inefficient night for Ward against Florida, as he was pulled just 1:42 into the game after allowing goals on two of the first five shots he faced. On in relief came Justin Peters, and he allowed the Panthers’ third goal before settling in. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes cut the deficit to one on tallies by Erik Cole and Jamie McBain before Tuomo Ruutu took over. He tied the score with 7:40 remaining on a 5-on-3 goal, then netted the unassisted winner 88 seconds later.
"Obviously, it wasn't the start we were looking for but it showed a lot of resilience, a lot of character," Peters said. "You never know what to expect. I'm sitting there, and next thing you know you're in the net. Sometimes when you don't see it coming it's the best way."
Thrashers: Peverley scored the 50th goal of his career with Atlanta shorthanded to open the scoring in the first period against Tampa Bay, but that was all the offense with which the Thrashers would provide Pavelec on this evening. The Lightning drew even in the second courtesy of Sean Bergenheim, and after Pavelec stopped their first three attempts in the shootout Victor Hedman beat him in the fourth round to prevent Atlanta from sweeping a three-game road trip.
"We're pleased we only gave up a goal, but our goal is to score," coach Craig Ramsay said. "We had some opportunities and we didn't cash them in. When you're presented with some chances to score, you've got to get it done."
Who's hot: Ruutu has 2 goals and 1 assist in the Hurricanes’ last two games. ... Peverley has 1 goal and 2 assists in the Thrashers’ last three games.
Injury report: The only report from either side comes on Carolina defenseman Jay Harrison, who missed Wednesday’s game with an upper-body injury.
Stat pack: Peters stopped 21 of 22 shots for the Hurricanes in relief Wednesday to pick up his first win since March 20 against the Penguins, a game in which he came on for the injured Manny Legace in the second period. ... The Thrashers have scored the first goal in 15 of their last 19 games. Overall, they are 9-6-4 this season when scoring first.
Puck drop: Washington also picked up a point Wednesday via an overtime loss to Anaheim, so Atlanta remained two points back in the Southeast. The Capitals (18-11-4) are idle on Thursday, giving the Thrashers a chance to move into a tie for the division lead if they beat the Hurricanes.