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Hurricanes-Thrashers Preview

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Hurricanes-Thrashers Preview

GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (15-7-1) at Atlanta Thrashers (10-12-2).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST.

Ilya Kovalchuk must look forward to seeing the Carolina Hurricanes coming up on the schedule.

Kovalchuk and the Atlanta Thrashers complete a home-and-home series with the Hurricanes as the teams face off at Philips Arena.

Kovalchuk had two goals and two assists Sunday in Atlanta's 5-2 win over Carolina. The top overall pick in the 2001 draft has two goals and four assists in two games versus the Hurricanes this season.

He also has seven goals and eight assists during an eight-game points streak against Carolina dating back to Jan. 18, 2004.

For his career, Kovalchuk has 13 goals and 11 assists in 16 games against the 'Canes.

Despite being one of the best offensive players in the league, Thrashers coach Bob Hartley has been impressed with the young star's defense as well. Kovalchuk stripped the puck from Carolina's Eric Staal and skated in on a breakaway, beating Martin Gerber late in the third period for his second goal of the game.

"(Kovalchuk's) improved defensively," Hartley told the Atlanta Journal-Constituon. "We want to make him responsible and be able to read plays."

This game marks the start of a season-high six-game road trip for Carolina, which is struggling on the power play.

Carolina was 0-for-6 with the man advantage Sunday and 2-for-24 over the last four games.

"I thought we had some pretty good shots on our power play," Hurricanes right wing Justin Williams said. "We put a lot of pucks to the net. Unfortunately we weren't able to convert."

Williams has four goals and six assists during a seven-game points streak.

The Hurricanes have lost four their last five games after a strecth in which they won 11 of 12.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 28): Hurricanes - 31 points, 1st place, Southeast Division. Thrashers - 22 points, 3rd place, 9 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Staal, 16 goals, 18 assists and 34 points; Mike Commodore and Jesse Boulerice, 45 PIM. Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 17 goals; Marc Savard, 25 assists and 35 points; Andy Sutton and Eric Boulton, 50 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 28): Hurricanes - Power play: 17.4 percent (26 for 149), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.6 percent (103 for 131), 28th. Thrashers - Power play: 21.7 percent (40 for 184), 5th. Penalty killing: 79.7 percent (130 for 163), 27th.

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Gerber (10-5-0, 2 SO, 2.45 GAA); Cam Ward (5-2-1, 0, 3.75). Thrashers - Michael Garnett (3-3-0, 0, 4.31); Adam Berkhoel (2-4-0, 0, 4.08).

SEASON SERIES: Thrashers, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 27; Thrashers, 5-2. At Raleigh, N.C., Garnett made 27 saves and Atlanta scored three third-period goals.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 6-3-1 on the road; Thrashers - 5-6-0 at home.


Associated Press
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