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Islanders-Thrashers Preview

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GAME: New York Islanders (31-29-4) at Atlanta Thrashers (31-28-6).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

A pair of teams making a push for a spot in the playoffs meet when the New York Islanders visit the Atlanta Thrashers.

Atlanta has won seven of its last nine to move three points back of eighth-place Montreal in the Eastern Conference, while New York has won a season-high four in a row and six of its last seven to pull within five points of the Canadiens.

The Thrashers have been riding goaltender Kari Lehtonen during their recent run. The 22-year-old hasn't allowed more than three goals in any of the past nine contests, posting a 2.04 goals-against average over that span. He's faced at least 34 shots in six games during the stretch.

Five of Atlanta's last six wins have come after regulation, including a 3-2 comeback victory in overtime over the New York Rangers on Sunday.

Atlanta fell behind 2-0 in the second period, but goals by Ronald Petrovicky and Ilya Kovalchuk in the final 20 minutes set up Marc Savard's score at 2:45 of the extra session.

"I like what I see," Thrashers forward Peter Bondra said. "We're getting rewarded. We don't give up on the play and we show some character at the same time, but there is a long way for us to get to where we want to be."

The Islanders beat New Jersey 6-1 on Tuesday to extend their winning streak, and are looking to register five straight victories for the first time since a six-game run from Dec. 21-31, 2003.

New York has limited opponents to a single goal in each game during the win streak, with goalie Rick DiPietro allowing just four goals on 104 shots.

"I thought we had a good shot all along," DiPietro said. "As far back as we were, we realized we weren't playing our best hockey. Guys have been waiting patiently to turn things around. It's starting to happen now and it's an exciting time for us."

Alexei Yashin scored twice Tuesday for New York, which has won four straight and nine of the last 12 meetings with Atlanta.

STANDINGS: Islanders - 66 points, 4th place, 16 PB, Atlantic Division. Thrashers - 68 points, 3rd place, 26 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Miroslav Satan, 26 goals; Yashin and Mike York, 34 assists; Yashin, 55 points; John Erskine, 111 PIM. Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 42 goals and 81 points; Savard, 55 assists; Andy Sutton, 110 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Islanders - Power play: 17.4 percent (63 for 362), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.8 percent (309 for 392), 27th. Thrashers - Power play: 19.4 percent (84 for 434), 6th. Penalty killing: 79.8 percent (325 for 407), 25th.

GOALTENDERS: Islanders - DiPietro (25-17-4, 3.12 GAA); Garth Snow (4-9-0, 3.70). Thrashers - Lehtonen (14-11-0, 1 SO, 2.71); Mike Dunham (4-4-1, 1, 2.79).

SEASON SERIES: Islanders, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 16; Islanders, 7-3. At Atlanta, Satan and Shawn Bates each scored two goals as the Islanders posted their highest-scoring game of the season.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 15-15-2 on the road; Thrashers - 17-12-4 at home.

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