AVALANCHE (13-10-4) at THRASHERS (15-10-3)
TV: ALT (HD), FS-S (HD)
Colorado 4-3-3; Atlanta 8-2-0
Season Series --
This is the second meeting between Colorado and Atlanta this season. The first meeting on Nov. 30 resulted in a 3-2 overtime victory for Atlanta at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Anthony Stewart, older brother of Colorado’s Chris Stewart, tallied the overtime winner but Chris was not in the lineup due to a broken hand. The only contest between the two teams last season was also resolved in overtime, but went in Colorado's favor in a 4-3 decision.
Big Story --
Colorado is hoping to avenge the 3-2 overtime loss as well as a recent four-game losing streak. It will be a tough feat, however, as the Thrashers have won eight of their last nine games and are in a four-way tie for fifth in the Eastern Conference standings with 33 points.
Colorado is 1-3-3 in its last seven games, and hasn’t won since Stewart suffered his injury on Nov. 27. The Avalanche lost 4-3 in overtime to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. That contest was disheartening for the Avalanche, who twice scored only to have Florida answer with a goal of its own on the next shift.
"It's tough when you score a goal and give up a goal on a (shift) right after," coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post. "You score a goal, you want to keep that momentum. …We want to push the pace and be hard to play against and I think we've gotten away from that a little lately. We've been in every game lately, but we just haven't been quite good enough."
Under the leadership of coach Craig Ramsay and behind the slap shot of Dustin Byfuglien, Atlanta is proving it will be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference this season.
The Thrashers defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 in overtime on Monday after defeating two extremely tough opponents in the League-leading Pittsburgh Penguins (first overall) and Washington Capitals (second overall) last week.
"I think we should be proud of what we've accomplished but obviously it's not enough," Ramsay told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We are still early in the season. Hopefully the guys are just focused on giving that one more big effort. The effort in the third period in Pittsburgh and the effort out in Colorado and, of course, in Washington, it's wasted if you don't come home and play hard. We need to be focused … you have to establish that fear that it's not easy to come into Atlanta."
Who's Hot -- Matt Duchene
appears to have overcome any sophomore slump, notching 5 points in as many games. … Dustin Byfuglien leads the Thrashers in points this season with 29 and has notched 8 points in his last five games, including an assist in Monday's contest. Andrew Ladd trails Byfuglien by one point with 28 on the season and three in his last two games.
Injury Report --
Colorado is without defenseman Kyle Cumiskey
(concussion) as well as Stewart and fellow forwards Peter Mueller
(concussion), David Van Der Gulik
(knee) and TJ Galiardi
(wrist). …Thrashers forward Fredrik Modin (rib) is day-to-day. Evander Kane returned to the lineup on Monday after missing the last two games with a knee injury.
Stat Pack --
The Thrashers currently boast the NHL's best power-play unit with a 24.8-percent success rate while Colorado ranks seventh overall with a 21.9-percent success rate.
Puck Drop --
Ondrej Pavelec will make his 10th straight start on Friday night. He is 8-1-0 in his last 10 games and boasts the second best goals-against average (1.71) and save percentage (.947).