GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (19-14-3-1) at Ottawa Senators (16-10-5-3).
TIME: Sunday, 2 p.m. EST.
The last three games have given further proof that Ilya Kovalchuk's success
is directly related to that of the Atlanta Thrashers.
Atlanta looks to match a franchise-record, four-game win streak when it
visits the surging Ottawa Senators.
Randy Robitaille and J.P. Vigier scored first-period goals and Pasi Nurminen
stopped 34 shots Friday, leading the first-place Thrashers to a 3-1 victory
over Tampa Bay.
"I thought we played really well defensively," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley
said. "We didn't generate as many chances as we would have liked, but we still
played hard and we still played smart."
Kovalchuk assisted on Robitaille's goal, giving him eight points -- including
three goals -- during Atlanta's current three-game win streak. Kovalchuk, second
in the NHL with 21 goals and 43 points, did not record a point in the previous
three games as the Thrashers were shut out in three straight losses.
Directly before their three-game skid, the Thrashers had won four in a row
for the second time this season to match a franchise record.
With Dany Heatley -- Atlanta's other star forward -- still out of the lineup,
Marc Savard is on pace for the best season of his career. Savard has one goal
and six assists in his last three games and is among the league leaders with 37
Ottawa has rebounded from a disappointing November with a very strong
December, losing just two of 13 games (7-2-4).
The Senators skated to their second straight tie Friday, 3-3 against
Zdeno Chara scored with 5:11 remaining and Todd White and Jason Spezza
scored in the first period as Ottawa ran its season-high unbeaten streak to
"We didn't get off to a good start," White said. "We weren't working hard
defensively. The start of the game was key. We battled hard but the bottom line
is we didn't do enough to win."
Center Mike Fisher made his season debut for the Senators and assisted on
Chara's goal. Fisher, who had surgery on his injured right elbow on Oct. 31,
replaced Radek Bonk, sidelined by the flu.