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St. Louis Blues vs. Atlanta Thrashers

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GAME: St. Louis Blues (25-16-6-1) at Atlanta Thrashers (21-23-5-2).

TIME: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Four months after surviving a car crash that killed teammate Dan Snyder, Atlanta star Dany Heatley will play his first game of the season when the Thrashers host the St. Louis Blues.

The 23-year-old Heatley tore two knee ligaments and broke his jaw in the accident, but Snyder died from head injuries.

Heatley was charged with vehicular homicide and test results showed he consumed a small amount of alcohol before the crash. His blood alcohol content was less than 0.015 percent, below Georgia's legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Because Heatley wasn't drunk and Snyder's relatives said they forgave him, prosecutors could decide the crash was an accident, with no need to pursue felony charges, which carry sentences from three to 15 years.

The case remains under investigation and a final decision on charges has not been made, Erik Friedly, a spokesman for the Fulton County district attorney, said Tuesday.

Heatley had surgery in October to repair the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee, and skated for the first time on Dec. 23.

He joined his teammates in a pregame skate about 10 days ago, and on Tuesday, coach Bob Hartley and Heatley decided the All-Star forward was fit to return.

``I feel 100 percent,'' Heatley said. ``I'm really excited. (This) is my opening night.''

After leading the Southeast Division for much of the season, Atlanta has dropped to second behind the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Thrashers are tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference with the New York Rangers.

``It's nice to help, but at the same time, that has no bearing on whether I was ready to play or I wasn't ready to play,'' Heatley said. ``It's going to be fun to get going in the middle of a playoff run.''

Atlanta continued its recent struggles with a 3-2 road loss to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. The Thrashers are 0-2-1 in their last three games, and have just two wins in their last 14 contests (2-9-2-1).

St. Louis is also struggling of late.

The Blues, who trail the Detroit Red Wings by eight points in the Central Division, fell 3-2 at home to the Dallas Stars on Saturday for their third straight loss.

St. Louis last lost three in a row March 7-11, 2002, and hasn't dropped four straight since a five-game skid from Nov. 13-23, 2001.

The Blues have just one win in their last five games, scoring seven goals over that span. St. Louis has scored more than two goals just twice in its last 12 games.

``We've gotten one-dimensional in our scoring,'' Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. ``We're basically only getting production out of one line. Hopefully, we can get scoring in more areas. We need a change to spread out our production.''

The Blues have been playing poorly on the road, with a 1-5 record in their last six. St. Louis has been outscored 16-6 in those contests.

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