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Anaheim Ducks vs. Atlanta Thrashers @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (8-9-4-5) at Atlanta Thrashers (12-11-3-1).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Pasi Nurminen's rise to the status of No. 1 goaltender may be taking a toll on him.

Nurminen and the struggling Atlanta Thrashers hope to avoid falling back to .500 when they face the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the teams' only meeting of the season.

A strong start to the season earned Nurminen the starting job over Byron Dafoe, but the third-year player hasn't been nearly as sharp of late, allowing three goals or more in nine of his last 13 games.

Nurminen has started 24 of Atlanta's 27 games, playing an NHL-high 1,459 minutes.

"It's not an excuse," Nurminen said. "That's the reason we practice in the summer. I didn't feel tired. Maybe I am a little bit. I don't know, it's hard to say."

A weak defense also hasn't helped Nurminen, who faced a season-high 41 shots Wednesday in a 6-4 loss to visiting Boston.

Marc Savard had a goal and an assist for the Thrashers, losers of four of five.

Atlanta has surrendered 19 goals in its last four losses. Only Pittsburgh (84) has given up more goals than the Thrashers (79) this season.

Atlanta coach Bob Hartley could start Dafoe against Anaheim.

"We're going to look at options," Hartley said. "Right now we have plenty of time to go to practice before our next game on Friday. We'll go back to the drawing board and make sure we do what's best for the team."

Thrashers right wing Ilya Kovalchuk, limited to one assist Wednesday, leads the NHL with 18 goals. He has five goals and 10 points in the last nine games.

Philips Arena will be the final stop on a four-game trip for the Mighty Ducks, losers of two in a row after earning at least a point in the previous 11 games (4-0-3-4).

Sergei Fedorov scored a goal in his return to Detroit on Wednesday, but goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere was pulled for the first time this season in a 7-2 loss.

"They just got better and better and faster and faster and we got slower and slower," Anaheim coach Mike Babcock said.

Giguere has been one of the league's biggest disappointments this season after his brilliant play in the 2002-03 playoffs earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy. He has won only four of 17 games, and his 2.74 goals-against average is one of the poorest in the NHL.

The Mighty Ducks have never lost in Atlanta, winning all three games.

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