GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (31-35-8-4) at Florida Panthers (27-32-14-4).
TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The Florida Panthers look to snap a four-game losing streak to the Atlanta
Thrashers when they host their Southeast Division rivals in the teams' last
meeting of the season.
After a 3-2 victory in the season series opener on Oct. 25, Florida has lost
the last four matchups, including a 3-2 defeat at Atlanta on March 19 that
started a current four-game winless streak (0-3-0-1).
Roberto Luongo made 27 saves in that last meeting, but allowed two goals in
the last two minutes.
Luongo had 42 saves on Thursday in a 3-2 loss to Carolina, setting an NHL
record with 2,219 on the season - breaking the mark of 2,214 set by Toronto's
Felix Potvin in 1996-97.
"He's a true competitor," Florida coach John Torchetti said. "Until we
turn it around, that's the bottom line, he's going to get beat until the end,
the bitter end."
The Panthers, who have lost six of their last 10 (3-6-0-1), continued to
fall flat on offense, getting outshot 45-21.
Florida's 172 goals this season ranks 14th in the 15-team Eastern
Conference, and 27th overall.
Atlanta, though, seemed equally frustrated in their first game after they
were eliminated from the playoffs on Thursday.
The Thrashers managed a meager three shots in the second period as they were
shut out 5-0 by the New Jersey Devils on Friday - snapping a three-game
unbeaten streak (2-0-1).
"It was not one of our best games, that's for sure," said Atlanta coach
Bob Hartley. "From the first drop of the puck we basically never gave
ourselves a chance to be in this game."
Atlanta drew 17 penalties, including two five-minute major penalties for
fighting and two unsportsmanlike conduct calls. The Thrashers allowed four
goals in 11 power-play chances.
"There were certainly frustrations, but still you have to be able to
control your frustrations," Hartley said. "You can't let frustration control
Florida, also eliminated from the playoffs, is just two points behind
Atlanta for second place in the Southeast behind Eastern conference leader
STANDINGS: Thrashers - 74 points, 2nd place, 27 PB, Southeast Division.
Panthers - 72 points, 4th place, 29 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Thrashers - Ilya Kovalchuk, 39 goals, 44 assists and 83
points; Francis Lessard, 177 PIM. Panthers - Olli Jokinen, 23 goals, 27 assists
and 50 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 152 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 25): Thrashers - Power play: 15 percent (58 for
387), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.5 percent (312 for 365), 5th. Panthers -
Power play: 16.4 percent (47 for 286), 14th. Penalty killing: 86.3 percent (303
for 351), 2nd.
GOALTENDERS: Thrashers - Pasi Nurminen (25-28-7, 3 SO, 2.77 GAA); Kari
Lehtonen (2-0-0, 0, 2.00). Panthers - Luongo (24-32-13, 7, 2.36); Steve Shields
(3-4-1, 0, 3.42).
SEASON SERIES: Thrashers, 4-1.
LAST MEETING: March 19; Thrashers, 3-2. At Atlanta, Kovalchuk shook off a
benching to score the gamewinner with 23.7 seconds remaining as Lehtonen won
his NHL debut.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Thrashers - 13-19-4-2 on the road; Panthers - 15-13-6-3