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Thrashers try to cool off surging Senators

by Dave Lozo
THRASHERS (6-5-3) at SENATORS (7-6-1)


Last 10 --
Atlanta 4-3-3; Ottawa 6-4-0

Season series --
This is the first of four meetings. The Thrashers took 3 of 4 from the Senators last season, outscoring the Sens 16-7.

Big story -- Are you a glass-half-empty or half-full kind of person? The Thrashers have just one regulation loss in their last seven games, but are just 3-1-3 during that stretch. Meanwhile, the Sens are starting to get hot. They've won three straight and 5 of 6 after opening the season 1-4-1.

Team Scope:

Thrashers -- Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss to the Blackhawks was a reunion of sorts. Many Thrashers were members of the last year's Cup-winning Blackhawks team. But it was Viktor Stalberg, who was with the Maple Leafs last season, beating Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec in the fifth round of the shootout to send the Thrashers to their second straight loss.

Pavelec made 36 saves, but he fell to 0-6 lifetime in the shootout.

"I know I've got to be better there and help the team grab the extra point," said Pavelec, who made 36 saves. "We deserved to win. I know my record. I know I have to be better there. The guys played really well tonight and deserved to win. They deserved better help from me. I should have made some more saves early."

Sentators -- When the Sens beat the Canadiens 3-2 on Saturday, it marked the first time the team was above .500 all season. Are they ready to say they've turned a corner?

"I don't think you can look and say, 'We've turned the corner now.' It's just a process the whole time," Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson told the Ottawa Sun. "You just keep trying to get better. There's always something that’s not clicking in a game. You've got to keep improving, keep working and you've got to give yourself chances to win the game."

Who's hot --
Atlanta's Dustin Byfuglien has been a force this season and has 3 goals and 4 assists in his last 7 games. … Ottawa's Sergei Gonchar has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 games.

Injury report -- Thrashers center Bryan Little (concussion) is out. Defenseman Freddy Meyer (lower body) is practicing but there is no timetable for his return. … Sens forward Milan Michalek (knee) thinks he can return this week, perhaps Tuesday against the Thrashers. Defenseman Filip Kuba (ankle) could also be back Tuesday.

Stat pack -- Ottawa's Alex Kovalev has 997 career points. He has 417 goals and 580 assists in 1,242 games with the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Montreal and Ottawa. … The Thrashers had killed 16 straight penalties before the Blackhawks scored with the man advantage Saturday.

Puck drop -- "We're definitely going in the right direction," Alfredsson told the Sun. "We've improved in a lot of areas, which helps. We're a little bit more poised with the puck and we're not thinking in terms of, 'Let's not get scored on.' We're trying to create more and that's something that comes with confidence."

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