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Thrashers-Hurricanes Preview

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Riding a high-powered offense, the Atlanta Thrashers are off to the best start in their history.

The Thrashers try for their fifth straight victory when they visit the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.

Atlanta (7-1-1) won 6-3 at Florida on Monday and leads the Southeast Division with 15 points - the most ever in October for the franchise, which began play in 1999-2000. The Thrashers, who came into the game just 4-for-31 on the power play, converted a team-record five of seven chances with the man advantage and got three power play goals from Ilya Kovalchuk.

"Sometimes we try to do too much (on the power play)," Kovalchuk said. "We just have to throw pucks at the net and good things will happen."

The Thrashers, who last won five in a row from Jan. 6-18 last season, are averaging 3.67 goals per game, ranking them among the best offenses in the NHL. They'll have a good chance to keep up that pace against the Hurricanes, who are allowing 3.44 goals per game.

"I'm pleased with how everything is going so far," said Marian Hossa, who had a power-play goal Monday and leads the Thrashers with 10 goals and 15 points. "But it's only nine or 10 games. We've got a lot of games in front of us."

Kovalchuk, who had 52 goals last season, has five goals in his last four games after not scoring in his first five, while Hossa has scored six goals in his last four games.

"Kovi is the type of scorer who even though he can go a few games without scoring, he can get his numbers back where they should be pretty quickly," coach Bob Hartley said.

Atlanta's defense has also been strong, giving up just two goals per game. Kari Lehtonen has started all nine games in net for the Thrashers and owns a 1.96 goals-against average.

Monday's game was the first on a season-high five-game road trip for the Thrashers. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are returning home after dropping four of seven games on their longest road trip of the season, capped by Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders.

"One that we gave away, definitely," said Justin Williams, who scored twice. "At this point last year we found ways to win these games."

Williams has scored all of his five goals in his last three games, including his first career hat trick in a 5-1 win at Tampa Bay on Oct. 16.

"It's great to be back home," Williams told the team web site. "During our first two home games, we didn't show our fans the same product we did last year, so we're going to come out and give the Caniacs something to cheer about Wednesday night."

Before the trip, Carolina dropped consecutive games at home, where it went 31-8-2 last season en route to the Cup title. However, the Hurricanes won three straight on their road swing, including a 4-3 victory at Atlanta on Oct. 13.

Craig Adams scored twice for the Hurricanes in that game, while Atlanta's Jon Sim had a pair of goals in a 22-second span in the second period. Ray Whitney scored the game-winner with a half-second left in the third period.

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