GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (27-33-7-3) at Carolina Hurricanes (22-30-13-4).
TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EST.
Most of the remaining NHL regular-season games will have playoff
implications. That won't be the case when the Atlanta Thrashers visit the
Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.
Although Atlanta and Carolina have not yet been eliminated from playoff
contention, each team would need a complete collapse by the New York Islanders
and Buffalo in order to qualify.
Atlanta's slim playoff hopes took another hit Tuesday with a 2-0 loss to the
revamped New York Rangers.
Pasi Nurminen stopped 23 of 24 shots in his franchise-record 12th straight
start for the Thrashers, 0-1-1-1 after winning three straight.
"I don't know how hard it is (to overcome the Islanders), but I know how
disappointing the loss is," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "I believe we
gave them a pretty easy night. When your best players are not your best
players, it's tough to win."
It's not a coincidence that star forward Ilya Kovalchuk has no goals during
Atlanta's three-game winless streak. Kovalchuk, the team leader in goals,
assists and points, had three goals during the Thrashers' three-game win
Carolina sits 13th in the Eastern Conference - three points behind
11th-place Atlanta. The Hurricanes will miss the playoffs for the second
consecutive season after reaching the Stanley Cup finals in 2001-02.
In their first game since trading captain Ron Francis to Toronto, the
Hurricanes allowed two goals on Tampa Bay's first two shots and wound up losing
4-2 to the NHL's top team Wednesday.
"I can't stand the results, they make me nauseous," Carolina coach Peter
Laviolette said. "But I'm going to guess we made three mistakes all night, and
all three ended up in our net."
Carolina has scored seven goals during a five-game home winless streak
STANDINGS: Thrashers - 64 points, 3rd place, 29 PB, Southeast Division.
Hurricanes - 61 points, 4th place, 32 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 36 goals, 37 assists and 73 points;
Francis Lessard, 132 PIM. Hurricanes - Josef Vasicek, 16 goals and 35 points;
Justin Williams, 24 assists; Jesse Boulerice, 113 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 10): Thrashers - Power play: 14.7 percent (51
for 348), 24th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (276 for 324), 6th.
Hurricanes - Power play: 11.6 percent (37 for 320), 30th. Penalty killing: 82.1
percent (252 for 307), 24th.
GOALTENDERS: Thrashers - Nurminen (23-25-6, 2 SO, 2.78 GAA); Frederic
Cassivi (no appearances). Hurricanes - Kevin Weekes (20-25-10, 6, 2.26); Arturs
Irbe (2-1-1, 1.97).
SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 3-1.
LAST MEETING: March 5; Hurricanes 3-2, OT. At Atlanta, Kevyn Adams scored on
a short-handed breakaway with one second left in overtime to lift Carolina.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Thrashers - 13-18-3-2 on the road; Hurricanes - 11-15-8-2