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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Atlanta Thrashers @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (20-28-13-4) at Atlanta Thrashers (27-32-6-2).

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

Hoping to make a late playoff push, the Atlanta Thrashers will try to match their longest winning streak of the season as they host the Carolina Hurricanes at Philips Arena.

Atlanta defeated the New York Rangers 4-3 on Sunday, giving it three straight wins for the first time since Dec. 20-26. Atlanta hasn't won four straight since Nov. 16-23.

Patrik Stefan had three assists, and Pasi Nurminen made 26 saves for the Thrashers, who have scored 10 goals during their win streak.

"We played a pretty smart road game," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "Very few turnovers, and once again our penalty killing was huge. We're in a good groove and we're making a push."

The Thrashers are 11th in the Eastern Conference, trailing the eighth-place New York Islanders by 11 points for the final postseason spot. Atlanta is trying to reach the playoffs for the first time in the franchise's five-year history.

Ilya Kovalchuk, who leads the league with 36 goals, has scored three times in two games since being benched by Hartley for missing a team meeting last week.

Carolina lost 3-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. The Hurricanes were shut out for sixth time this season and second time in three games. Carolina had earned points in its seven previous games, going 3-0-2-2.

"The last seven games, we've been chipping away and pecking away and getting points and fighting for them," Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley said. "I thought we were playing some fairly good hockey and to come out, especially at home, and play like this is unacceptable."

Carolina is beginning a stretch of three games in four nights.

STANDINGS (through March 3): Hurricanes - 57 points, 4th place, 29 PB, Southeast Division. Thrashers - 62 points, 3rd place, 24 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Josef Vasicek, 16 goals; Justin Williams, 24 assists; Vasicek and Williams, 34 points; Jesse Boulerice, 106 PIM. Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 36 goals, 35 assists and 71 points; Francis Lessard, 127 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 3): Hurricanes - Power play: 11.6 percent (35 for 303), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent (236 for 288), 24th. Thrashers - Power play: 14.9 percent (49 for 329), 23rd. Penalty killing: 85.3 percent (267 for 313), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Kevin Weekes (19-24-10, 6 SO, 2.23 GAA); Arturs Irbe (1-0-1, 0, 1.92). Thrashers - Nurminen (23-23-5, 2, 2.84); Frederic Cassivi (no record).

SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 16; Hurricanes, 4-3. At Atlanta, Jeff O'Neill had his second career hat trick to lead the Hurricanes.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 9-15-5-2 on the road; Thrashers - 14-14-4-0 at home.

Associated Press
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