Atlanta at Phoenix
By: Russell Brooks
GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (10-14-3) at Phoenix Coyotes (14-12-2).
TIME: Monday, 9 p.m. EST.
The Phoenix Coyotes are coming off their best offensive performance in nearly six years. The Atlanta Thrashers are just looking to generate some offense.
In a matchup of two teams headed in opposite directions, Phoenix welcomes struggling Atlanta to the Glendale Arena.
The Coyotes hold a 7-1-1 lead in the all-time series, including a 4-0-1 mark in Arizona.
Ladislav Nagy had three goals and added two assists in the Coyotes' 8-4 win Saturday over the Carolina Hurricanes. The eight goals were the most scored in one game by Phoenix since Dec. 22, 1999 against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
"That was a lot of fun," said Nagy, who recorded his second career hat trick. "We had a lot of guys play great."
The four-goal win was a departure for the Coyotes who have played in 16 games decided by one goal. The Coyotes are 7-9 in one-goal games this season.
The offensive outburst also followed Phoenix's worst loss of the season, a 6-1 setback Wednesday to Anaheim.
"I still expect us to win one-goal games, but these wins are fun," said Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky.
The Thrashers, meanwhile, have managed just one goal in two games after tallying 15 in their previous three outings. Brad Larsen scored the lone goal in Atlanta's 2-1 loss Saturday to Anaheim.
Overall, the Thrashers have lost three in a row - their worst stretch since a four-game slide from Oct. 12-20. During that losing streak, Atlanta was outscored 22-2.
Over the last three games, Ilya Kovalchuk has just one assist. He has two goals and an assist in five career games against the Coyotes.
Compounding Atlanta's offensive woes is the loss of Peter Bondra to a groin injury suffered in the loss to Anaheim. Bondra is second on the team in goals (13), third in assists (15) and fourth in points (28).
"It doesn't look good, it's not minor," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "He won't play the rest of the trip, so we'll send him back to Atlanta."
The Thrashers wrap up their road swing Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 3): Thrashers - 23 points, 3rd place, 11 PB, Southeast Division. Coyotes - 30 points, 3rd place, 5 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 17 goals; Marc Savard, 26 assists and 37 points; Andy Sutton, 58 PIM. Coyotes - Nagy, 11 goals, 18 assists and 29 points; Sean O'Donnell, 59 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 3): Thrashers - Power play: 20.4 percent (41 for 201), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.6 percent (144 for 183), 28th. Coyotes - Power play: 19.7 percent (37 for 187), 7th. Penalty killing: 81.7 percent (139 for 170), 19th.
GOALTENDERS: Thrashers - Michael Garnett (3-5-1, 3.99 GAA); Adam Berkhoel (2-4-0,4.08). Coyotes - Joseph (12-7-0, 2 SO, 2.22); David Leneveu (2-5-2, 3.20).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Thrashers, 1-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 11, 2004; Tie, 1-1. At Phoenix, Randy Robitaille scored for the Thrashers while Daymond Langkow tallied a third-period goal to tie it up for the Coyotes.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Thrashers - 5-7-2 on the road; Coyotes - 8-5-1 at home.
Forward Mike LeClerc missed practice Sunday afternoon with flu-like symptoms. His status for Monday night's game against the Atlanta Thrashers is questionable.
Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky has many times said he doesn't like to change the lineup after wins, but that may change Monday night. Gretzky hinted at the addition of forward Oleg Saprykin back to the lineup after sitting him as a healthy scratch against Carolina.
"There is a good possibility Oley will be in the lineup tomorrow," said Gretzky. "The coaching staff and I will make up our minds tomorrow."
CUJO IN NET
Coyotes netminder Curtis Joseph will get the start in goal against Atlanta. In his career against the Thrashers, CuJo is 4-3-0 in seven starts with a 2.71 goals against average.
BOUCHER CONTINUES REHAB
Phoenix goaltender Brian Boucher made 25 saves on 27 shots for the San Antonio Rampage, the Coyotes' AHL affiliate, in a loss against the Cleveland Barons Friday night. Boucher will continue his rehab in San Antonio and play in at least one of the two games next weekend.
RADIO COLOR COMMENTATOR LOUIS DEBRUSK'S THREE KEYS TO THE GAME
Phoenix Coyotes Radio Color Analyst Louis DeBrusk sat down with phoenixcoyotes.com to offer his keys to the game for Monday's match up with the Atlanta Thrashers.
1. No turnovers, especially at the blue lines. Atlanta is 7th in the league in scoring and having a deadly transition game. If the Coyotes give up the puck at the blue line, the chances of a good scoring opportunity against are high.
2. Get the puck deep and work the cycle down low. The Coyotes need to create shots off the cycle and drive to the net hard. As was the case Saturday night, the Coyotes will get goals by driving hard to the net.
3. Physical Play. All Eastern conference teams are physical, as shown by Carolina, and Atlanta is no different. The Coyotes need to play physical, but keep it clean and stay out of the penalty box.