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Red-hot Thrashers head to Ottawa

by Brian Compton /
THRASHERS (16-11-3) at SENATORS (13-16-2)

TV:  RDS; Fox Sports-South, SNET-E.

Last 10: Atlanta 8-2-0; Ottawa 3-6-1.

Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams. Ottawa earned a 5-2 victory against Atlanta on Nov. 9 at Scotiabank Place. Jason Spezza had two goals and an assist for the Senators.

Big Story: The Thrashers are rolling, as a four-goal third period sparked them to their eighth win in 10 games Saturday night, a 5-4 victory against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Atlanta rallied from a 2-0 deficit and pulled within four points of first place in the Southeast Division.

Team Scope:

Thrashers: Atlanta was lifted by Bryan Little's shorthanded goal in the third period Saturday night, and what a wacky goal it was. Little snapped a quick wrist shot off a faceoff past Rick DiPietro, who didn't appear ready to resume play. Little's goal gave Atlanta a 4-3 lead.

"I tried to make it seem like I was going to win (the faceoff) back," Little said. "I was trying to put it on net, to get a shot, and ended up getting a good bounce on it. I've tried it before, but you need to have a bit of luck to get it through. I kind of caught them off-guard, and their goalie really wasn't paying attention."

Senators: Ottawa bounced back from a 5-3 loss to the Rangers on Thursday, as it earned a 3-2 victory against the New Jersey at Scotiabank Place just 24 hours later. Milan Michalek and Jarkko Ruutu scored 2:16 apart midway through the second, spoiling Martin Brodeur's return to the Devils' lineup.

"Both teams are fighting hard for points right now," Sens goalie Pascal Leclaire said after the victory. "We're both not in a situation we expected to be in the standings, so it was a pretty hard-fought game and it's good for us. Hopefully, we can build some confidence out of it."

Who's Hot: Thrashers defenseman Johnny Oduya scored his first two goals of the season Saturday night. They came just 78 seconds apart during the third period.

Injury Report: Thrashers forward Fredrik Modin (rib) returned to the lineup Saturday after missing 12 straight games. … Ottawa is boasting a healthy lineup.

Stat Pack: Chris Mason made 25 saves on Saturday night for his first win since Nov. 3. … Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson is the only player on the roster with more than seven goals. The three goals scored on Friday against the Devils marked just the fourth time in 16 games they've scored that many.

Puck Drop: "There's nothing I can do about it. I'm not the only one not playing well, and he decides to pick me. It's been happening my whole career. I accept that." -- Sens forward Alexei Kovalev on coach Cory Clouston's decision to demote him to the fourth line
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