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Atlanta Thrashers vs. New York Islanders

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GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (3-5-0) at New York Islanders (4-4-0).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EDT.

Four days into the new season, the Atlanta Thrashers inked Ilya Kovalchuk to a five-year, $32 million deal after the star left wing threatened to play in his native Russia.

Kovalchuk and post-lockout acquisition Bobby Holik were expected to help lead Atlanta to its first playoff berth in club history. The club would just settle for more offense from them.

Atlanta starts a quick two-game road swing Tuesday night at the Nassau Coliseum against the New York Islanders.

Kovalchuk has scored 108 goals in his first three seasons, including 41 in 2003-04, tying him with Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames for the league lead.

But Kovalchuk has just one goal and one assist in five games since rejoining the team.

Holik - a high-profile signing - has not panned out as expected. Holik, who led the New York Rangers with 25 goals and 31 assists in 2003-04, has managed one goal and one assist in eight games with his new club.

Atlanta will try to string together consecutive wins for the first time since the first week of the season. Marc Savard and Ronald Petrovicky scored 30 seconds apart late in the third period Saturday of the Thrashers' 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils.

The win ended a four-game skid in which Atlanta was outscored 22-2.

Atlanta will be without enforcer Eric Boulton after he was suspended by the league Monday for six games for delivering an elbow Thursday to the head of Paul Ranger of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

New York returns home after a disappointing loss Saturday night. Rick DiPietro allowed Steve Begin's game-winning goal with 1:45 to play in a 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

Two of the Islanders' acquisitions after the lockout continue to shine. Miroslav Satan tallied two power-play goals off assists from Alexei Zhitnik

Satan, picked up from the Buffalo Sabres, has four goals during a three-game scoring streak. Zhitnik, also from Buffalo, has six assists during a four-game points streak.

STANDINGS: Thrashers - 6 points, 4th place (tied), 5 PB, Southeast Division. Islanders - 8 points, 2nd place (tied), 3 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Thrashers - Savard, 4 goals, 8 assists and 12 points; Boulton, 38 PIM. Islanders - Satan, 6 goals; Zhitnik, 7 assists; Alexei Yashin, 9 points; Janne Niinimaa, 22 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 23): Thrashers - Power play: 14.8 percent (9 for 61), 20th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.4 percent (54 for 68), 23rd. Islanders - Power play: 16.9 percent (10 for 59), 16th. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (56 for 66), 11th.

GOALTENDERS: Thrashers - Adam Berkhoel (1-1-0, 3.93); Michael Garnett (0-2-0, 6.34). Islanders - DiPietro (3-3-0, 3.21); Garth Snow (1-1-0, 3.96).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Islanders, 2-1-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 24, 2004. Islanders, 3-0. At Atlanta, DiPietro made 25 saves - including eight on Kovalchuk - for his second career shutout.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Thrashers - 1-2-0 on the road; Islanders - 2-1-0 at home.


Associated Press

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