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by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes
FEBRUARY 21, 2001 7:00 p.m.
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RALEIGH (FEB. 21, 2001) -- The Carolina Hurricanes begin a three-game home stand tonight against Southeast Division rivals the Atlanta Thrashers. The Hurricanes will play host the New Jersey Devils on Friday and the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

Carolina has defeated Atlanta in each of the teams’ seven regular season meetings since the Thrashers joined the National Hockey League at the beginning of the 1999-2000 season. Tonight’s game is the fourth meeting between the teams at the Entertainment and Sports Arena where the Hurricanes have outscored the Thrashers 11-4.

This season, the teams have met twice in Atlanta, both games Carolina victories – 5-3 on Dec. 6 and 3-1 on Feb. 1. Still, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice never takes a match-up with Atlanta lightly.

“The games have been very close,” said Maurice. “Certainly first game in Atlanta this year we had to burn one from the red line to seal it. And in the first period of the second game in Atlanta I didn’t think we were in control of that game. It’s more of a statistical anomaly that we’ve been able to beat them seven times. They’ve played well enough. It hasn’t been a situation where we’ve gone in and dominated and we’ve just, for whatever reason, had their number.

“I think a big part of it is that Atlanta has hit us at the end of the season both times,” said Maurice. “I think that that has been an advantage for us.”

Atlanta appeared as though it would challenge for the top-spot in the Southeast Division this season before hitting a 14-game winless skid from Dec. 29 to Jan. 27. Since that time the Thrashers have gone 3-6-0-0 including a three-game losing streak. Atlanta has dropped its last two games, 3-1 at Buffalo last Thursday and 5-1 at Philadelphia on Saturday.

Tonight’s game is the third of a five-game road swing for the Thrashers. Atlanta has gone 9-15-6-0 in 30 games away from Philips Arena this season.

Maurice said that goaltender Arturs Irbe will start in net tonight and will likely play in the Hurricanes’ games this weekend against New Jersey and Washington. Irbe missed Carolina’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 16 due to a groin injury.

Carolina Hurricanes Website Reporter Kyle S. Hanlin can be reached at

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