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Thrashers-Hurricanes Preview

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Carolina has fallen into scoring ruts on occasion. Finding the back of the net wasn't much of a problem for the Hurricanes in matchups with the Atlanta Thrashers last season.

The Hurricanes, coming off a victory despite another subpar effort on offense, look to win their sixth straight game against the Thrashers when the Southeast Division rivals meet Sunday.

Carolina (8-4-2) tops the division despite being held to two goals or fewer in half of its games. The Hurricanes have scored twice in each of their last two contests, losing 3-2 to Washington on Thursday night before beating Ottawa 2-1 the following evening.

Carolina ranks around the middle of the pack in the NHL with 2.93 goals per game. The Hurricanes, though, were outstanding on offense against the Thrashers (5-7-2) last season. They won the last five games to take the season series 6-1-1, outscoring Atlanta 27-13 during the winning streak.

In the teams' last matchup, the Hurricanes beat the Thrashers 7-1 on March 28.

Tuomo Ruutu had two goals for Carolina in that game. The fifth-year winger had a five-game point streak (four goals, three assists) end Friday, when defenseman Joe Corvo, who had a goal and an assist in the last meeting with Atlanta, scored with 2:40 left against the Senators.

That victory made Peter Laviolette the winningest American-born coach in NHL history, surpassing former Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella with his 240th career victory.

"Those things happen - every year, somebody plays their 400th game, somebody scores their 300th point," Laviolette said. "If you stay around long enough, something will happen, and I've been fortunate and lucky to stay around long enough in this game."

Atlanta has won three straight under first-year coach John Anderson, beating Buffalo 5-4 in overtime Friday night for its first road win of the season. The Thrashers haven't won four in a row since last December.

"We're getting our confidence back," center Bryan Little said. "We're starting to turn it around, and we're playing our game more."

Little had two goals and an assist versus the Sabres, and Jason Williams scored his second goal of the game 48 seconds into OT. Little, the 12th overall pick in the 2006 draft, has eight goals after scoring six in 48 games as a rookie last season.

Williams has three goals and one assist in his last three games.

"We've got a little bit of a roll going," said Williams, who has helped the Thrashers score 14 goals in their last three contests.

Slava Kozlov extended his point streak to five games with three assists. He has five goals and four assists during his run.

Atlanta could use a boost from its defense, having given up 36 goals in the last eight games. Thrashers' opponents have scored on 33.3 percent (12-for-36) of their power-play opportunities during that span.

Johan Hedberg started against Buffalo, but Atlanta may turn back to No. 1 goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who is 3-9-1 with a 3.87 goals-against average in 13 games against Carolina.

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