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Canucks make rare trip to Atlanta

by John Kreiser

CANUCKS (48-17-9) at THRASHERS (31-30-12)

TV -- SNET-Pacific (HD); FS-South (HD)

Last 10 --
Vancouver 8-2-0; Atlanta 5-4-1

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the only time this season. Vancouver won the last meeting, 4-2 at Rogers Arena on Dec. 10, 2009.

Big story -- While the Canucks are closing in on first place in the Western Conference and the first Presidents' Trophy in franchise history, the Thrashers are just trying to keep their postseason hopes alive. They begin the night seven points out of the last playoff spot in the East.

Team Scope:

Canucks -- Vancouver took a stranglehold on first place in the Western Conference race by going into Detroit on Wednesday and emerging with a 2-1 win. Daniel Sedin scored both goals and Roberto Luongo stopped 39 of 40 shots. The win gave the Canucks 105 points, 10 more than runner-up Detroit with eight games remaining.

"I think we all know math a little," captain Henrik Sedin said. "It's going to be tough for the other teams to catch up."

Thrashers -- Atlanta's playoff hopes got a revival on Thursday when the Thrashers rebounded from an awful 8-2 rout at Buffalo last Saturday with a 2-1 road victory against the Islanders in which they held New York to just 15 shots.

"We played aggressively," coach Craig Ramsay said. "It was one of the best neutral zone games we've had. I have a lot of confidence in our team. We can't ever give up."

Who's hot -- Both of the Sedin twins are on fire. Henrik has 3 goals and 14 points in Vancouver's last nine games. Daniel, the NHL scoring leader, is 8-8-16 in the same span. … Atlanta captain Andrew Ladd had his 27th goal on Thursday, the most on the team and a career-high.

Injury report --
Vancouver forwards Mikael Samuelsson (leg) and Tanner Glass (upper body) didn't practice Thursday and are day-to-day. Center Manny Malhotra is out for the season after eye surgery last week. … The Thrashers have Freddy Meyer (head injury) and Jim Slater (concussion) on IR.

Stat pack -- The Thrashers and Canucks have met just 10 times since Atlanta entered the NHL in 1999. The Canucks are 6-2-1-1, including 3-1-1 at Atlanta. They haven't been to Phillips Arena since losing 4-3 in a shootout on Jan. 2, 2009.

Puck drop -- Daniel Sedin is on the verge of succeeding his brother as the NHL's scoring champion, but he's done his best to tamp down such talk.

"Henrik's doing most of the talking," said Daniel, who played in Detroit two days after his wife gave birth to their third child. "He's been pumping me up."

Daniel has 5 goals and 7 points in Vancouver's last three meetings with the Thrashers, including a hat trick in last season's win.

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