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Hurricanes-Thrashers Preview

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GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (47-19-6) at Atlanta Thrashers (35-31-6).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Atlanta Thrashers are trying to catch the pack and make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Atlanta hosts the newly-crowned Southeast Division champion Carolina Hurricanes, who have taken the last four meetings in the series.

The Thrashers are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, seven points behind the three-way tie of the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning for the final spots in the playoffs.

A three-goal third-period rally fell short on Thursday as the Thrashers lost 4-3 to the Lightning.

"Right now, time is running out," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "We don't have any points to give to anyone. We will need some great performances from everyone."

The Thrashers will need improved play from leading scorer Marc Savard. The center has just one goal in his last seven games and two in his last 17.

Savard has three goals in six meetings with Carolina this season.

Carolina's Craig Adams scored the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Friday. Adams' tally and Martin Gerber's 21 saves helped secure the Hurricanes' first Southeast Division crown since 2001-02, when they reached the Stanley Cup Finals.

"It's an accomplishment and our guys should be proud of that," coach Peter Laviolette said. "They've worked hard to get to this point, but trust me. It's not the ultimate goal."

Like Atlanta, the Hurricanes have a slumping leading scorer. Eric Staal has been held without a goal for five consecutive games for the second time this month. His last tally came in a 3-2 loss to Toronto on March 21.

The second-year player needs nine more points to become only the fourth player in franchise history to reach the century mark.

STANDINGS: Hurricanes - 102 points, 1st place, Southeast Division. Thrashers - 76 points, 3rd place, 26 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Staal, 42 goals, 50 assists and 92 points; Mike Commodore, 111 PIM. Thrashers - Ilya Kovalchuk, 45 goals; Savard, 62 assists and 88 points; Andy Sutton, 120 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Hurricanes - Power play: 18 percent (87 for 484), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.5 percent (325 for 394), 15th. Thrashers - Power play: 19.0 percent (91 for 478), 8th. Penalty killing: 79.6 percent (350 for 440), 24th.

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Gerber (35-12-4, 3 SO, 2.65 GAA); Cam Ward (13-7-2, 0, 3.59). Thrashers - Kari Lehtonen (18-14-0, 2, 2.88); Mike Dunham (4-4-1, 1, 2.71).

SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 4-2.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 28; Hurricanes, 4-1. At Raleigh, N.C., Justin Williams, Erik Cole, Anton Babchuk and Kevyn Adams scored and Gerber made 17 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 19-12-5 on the road; Thrashers - 20-13-4 at home.

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