Skip to main content

Coyotes-Thrashers Preview

NHL.com @NHL

Marian Hossa hasn't been finding the back of the net lately, but he's making sure his Atlanta Thrashers teammates do.

Hossa and the Thrashers make a quick return home looking to win a season-high fourth straight game at Philips Arena as they meet Curtis Joseph the resurgent Phoenix Coyotes on Friday.

Hossa is second in the league with 24 goals, but hasn't scored since Dec. 19, when he had a pair of short-handed tallies in a 4-3 overtime win at New Jersey. But the two-time All-Star has posted a league-best 12 assists in seven games since, and the Thrashers have gone 5-2-0 in that stretch.

Atlanta is second in the Eastern Conference with 54 points and has an eight-point lead over second-place Carolina in the Southeast Division.

Hossa has 32 assists and is second in the league with 56 points. Playing his entire career in the East with Ottawa and Atlanta, Hossa has faced Phoenix only nine times, recording four goals and one assist.

The Thrashers head home after going 2-2-0 on a four-game road swing capped by a 5-1 loss to Minnesota on Wednesday. Hossa assisted on Jon Sim's goal with 22.3 seconds left to end Manny Fernandez's shutout bid.

Hossa, Ilya Kovalchuk and Vyacheslav Kozlov were held to a combined one shot on goal. The Thrashers' top three scorers have accounted for 144 of the team's 336 points this season.

"Basically, from the first drop of the puck we did not give ourselves a chance," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "We had no energy and they were flying."

Atlanta is 11-5-3 at home in 2006-07. Following this contest, though, the Thrashers (24-12-6) play four tough road games in seven days, starting Saturday in Washington before meeting Montreal, New Jersey and Carolina.

Behind 29 saves from Joseph, the Coyotes (17-20-2) won their season-high fourth in a row, 2-0 over the Hurricanes on Thursday. With his 438th career win, Joseph passed Jacques Plante for sole possession of fifth place on the all-time list, and needs 10 more move past Terry Sawchuk into fourth.

"They are inventors and the greatest legends of the game, so if I can creep into the same company somehow, I'm very honored," said Joseph, who turns 40 on April 29.

Phoenix also has won the first two games of a season-high five-game road trip that also makes stops at Chicago and Dallas.

"There's a renewed optimism among this club, for sure," Joseph said. "Guys blocking shots, a little bit of a swagger, and you need to have that. We're winning games on the road, we're winning close games and we weren't doing that earlier in the year."

The shutout was Joseph's second in as many starts, and he's not allowed a puck past him in 140 minutes, 18 seconds since Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored late in the second period of the Coyotes' 3-2 win over San Jose on Dec. 28.

Joseph has won his last four starts against the Thrashers - a streak that started with a 17-save shutout en route to a 6-0 win on Jan. 30, 2002, while with Toronto.

"With Curtis being fresh, he's playing better now than he did even last year," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "Last year, he was good at times. This year, right now, he's much more solid, much more in a zone."

Ed Jovanovski and Yanic Perreault scored for the Coyotes, who have averaged four goals a game during their winning streak.

View More