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Atlanta Thrashers vs. Ottawa Senators @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (23-30-6-2) at Ottawa Senators (32-15-8-4).

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

Ottawa already is the NHL's highest-scoring team.

The addition of Peter Bondra should make the Senators even more dangerous.

With its newest offensive star making his debut, Ottawa looks to extend its unbeaten streak to six games and move into a first-place tie atop the Eastern Conference in a matchup with the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Senators acquired Bondra on Wednesday from the Washington Capitals for center Brooks Laich and a second-round pick in the 2005 draft.

Bondra left Washington second on the club's all-time games played list (961), but first in points (825), goals (472), power-play goals (137), game-winning goals (73), short-handed goals (32) and hat tricks (19).

Even at 36 years old, Bondra is still a strong offensive player and should further boost an Ottawa team that leads the NHL with 196 goals.

He had 21 goals and 14 assists in 54 games for the Capitals this season, and now makes the Senators the only team in the league with 10 players who have scored 10 or more goals.

Bondra wanted to stay in Washington, and said he was disappointed when he got the news from Capitals general manager George McPhee before practice Wednesday morning.

"When George told me, I was so shocked and, like, my stomach had butterflies," Bondra said. "It was almost emotionally a breakdown. It was tough. ... I was here for 14 years, and all of sudden it's gone."

He did, however, say all the right things about Ottawa, including that he was looking forward to meeting new teammates and having a chance to win a Stanley Cup for the first time.

Ottawa skated to a 1-1 tie in Washington on Tuesday to go to 4-0-1 in its last five contests. The Senators have earned at least one point in six straight games.

Ottawa moved into a tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place in the Northeast Division, and is only two points back of the conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers.

Toronto visits the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, while Philadelphia hosts the Boston Bruins.

Marian Hossa scored his 26th goal with 4:23 remaining Tuesday to salvage the tie for Ottawa, which didn't pick up the win despite outshooting Washington 48-19.

"We were definitely looking for two points tonight," said Hossa, who has three goals and three assists during the Senators' five-game unbeaten run. "We couldn't capitalize. Their team played very well defensively. We can't be happy at all about (earning) one point."

Ottawa now faces an Atlanta team it hasn't lost to in nearly two years. The Senators have outscored the Thrashers 16-8 in three wins this season, and are 6-0-1 against them since a 3-2 overtime defeat at home on March 23, 2002.

Atlanta beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on the road Tuesday for its second win in three contests following a 10-game winless streak.

The Thrashers, who lost 7-2 Monday in Buffalo, improved to 2-3 on their season-high seven-game road trip which ends Saturday in Philadelphia.

"We had a bad time over the last month because we didn't play well," said Atlanta forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored for the second straight game Tuesday to give him a team-high 31 goals.

"But we beat Vancouver (on Friday) and we won tonight, so we'll be back on track. There are still 21 games left and you never know. It's the NHL and we're trying to do our best."

STANDINGS (through Feb. 17): Thrashers - 54 points, 2nd place (tied), 18 PB, Southeast Division. Senators - 76 points, 1st place (tied), Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 31 goals, 33 assists and 64 points; Francis Lessard, 127 PIM. Senators - Hossa, 26 goals, 37 assists and 63 points; Chris Neil, 135 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 17): Thrashers - Power play: 13.8 percent (42 for 304), 27th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (240 for 281), 6th. Senators - Power play: 22.9 percent (65 for 284), 1st. Penalty killing: 84.9 percent (213 for 251), 13th.

GOALTENDERS: Thrashers - Pasi Nurminen (19-21-5, 2 SO, 2.83 GAA); Byron Dafoe (4-11-1, 3.14). Senators - Patrick Lalime (20-15-6, 3, 2.27); Martin Prusek (11-4-2, 3, 1.80).

SEASON SERIES: Senators, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 28; Senators, 5-2. At Ottawa, Hossa scored twice and Peter Schaefer had two assists as the Senators extend their unbeaten streak to six games.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Thrashers - 10-17-2-2 on the road; Senators - 19-7-4-3 at home.

Associated Press
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