GAME: Los Angeles Kings (14-10-1-2) at Atlanta Thrashers (14-11-3-1).
TIME: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
Coming into this season, the Los Angeles Kings and Atlanta Thrashers both
had some issues surrounding their clubs.
The only question now, however, is if each team has what it takes to stay in
its division race.
The surprising Kings and Thrashers both look to continue their recent strong
play when the teams meet for the only time this season.
Atlanta began the 2003-04 season amid tragedy and disbelief after a car
accident killed center Dan Snyder and jeopardized the career of All-Star
forward Dany Heatley.
Heatley, who led the team with 41 goals last season, injured his knee in the
Sept. 29 accident that resulted in him being charged with vehicular homicide.
The Thrashers rallied around each other following the tragedy, and have gone
on to battle the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top spot in the Southeast
Division. Atlanta, which is 14-11-3-1, didn't record its 14th win until Jan. 17
Atlanta won its second straight game Saturday, coming from behind to beat
the Florida Panthers 4-3 in overtime.
The Thrashers trailed 3-1 in the second period when Shawn McEachern began
Atlanta's comeback with his fifth goal of the season. Ben Simon tied it with
his first NHL goal at 9:49 of the third, and Vyacheslav Kozlov won it for
Atlanta 2:57 into overtime.
"I'm pretty happy," said Simon, who was reacquired by Atlanta last week.
"I'm not really a goal scorer. But I'll take what I can get. It's pretty neat
to be able to say you scored in the NHL."
Los Angeles came into this season hoping to avoid the injury bug that
derailed its chances of making the playoffs last season.
The Kings have had many injuries this season, but they've overcome them to
move into first place in the Pacific Division.
Los Angeles began a four-game road trip with a 3-2 overtime loss to the
Detroit Red Wings on Monday, but earned at least one point for the fifth time
in six games (4-1-0-1).
The Kings rallied from a 2-0 third-period deficit on goals by Michael
Cammalleri with 9:06 left and Martin Straka with 2:10 remaining to force
overtime, but Brett Hull moved into third place on the NHL career goal list by
scoring 1:51 into overtime to give Detroit the win.
"We're not happy with the way we played in the first period," Kings
forward Luc Robitaille said. "The Wings play that puck possession and you have
to be patient. It's a big point for us."
Los Angeles has never lost in regulation to Atlanta, going 6-0-0-1 in the
series since the Thrashers joined the league in 1999.