GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (18-4-8-3) at Atlanta Thrashers (17-14-3-1).
TIME: Sunday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Atlanta Thrashers hope they've ended their offensive woes as they host
the Philadelphia Flyers at Philips Arena.
Atlanta ended its scoring slump in a big way Saturday, beating Pittsburgh
7-4. Marc Savard had the biggest game of his career with a goal and four
assists, and Ilya Kovalchuk snapped out of an eight-game scoring drought with
two goals and three assists.
The NHL's second-highest scoring team had been shut out in a team record
three consecutive games, but Ronald Petrovicky scored eight seconds after the
opening faceoff to send the Thrashers to their first victory since beating
Pittsburgh 6-3 Dec. 12.
"Savard played a great game," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "He is one
of the offensive leaders on this team, and we needed a big performance from
many of our leaders."
Kovalchuk, who matched his career high for points in a game with two goals
and two assists, tied Columbus' Rick Nash for the NHL goal-scoring lead with
Philadelphia snapped a season-worst, five-game winless streak (0-1-2-2) with
a 3-1 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night, as rookie defenseman
Jim Vandermeer had the first two-goal game of his NHL career.
With fellow rookie blueliner Joni Pitkanen sidelined with the flu,
Vandermeer stepped into Philadelphia's lineup to score the tying goal and
Simon Gagne added a power-play goal for Philadelphia with 7:26 left and
Robert Esche made 18 saves in his return from injury.
Esche missed seven games after straining his groin in warmups before a Dec.
6 game at Boston. In his absence, Jeff Hackett went 1-3-3 and allowed 17 goals.
Esche is undefeated at home (8-0-1).
"I wasn't overly enthused the way I played," Esche said. "I was excited
to get back in."