THRASHERS (4-4-1) at SENATORS (6-3-2)
Last 10 -- Ottawa 6-2-2; Atlanta 4-4-1
Season series -- This is the second of four meetings between the clubs this season. The Senators won 4-2 at Scotiabank Place on Oct. 10. Mike Fisher's power-play goal 3:44 into the second period proved to be the game-winner. Alex Kovalev, Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Neil also scored for the Sens. Ilya Kovalchuk and Ron Hainsey had the Thrashers' goals. Brian Elliott made 22 saves for his first win of the season.
Big story -- Neither team comes in playing particularly well, but the Senators have at least been better. They gained points in five straight games before a 5-2 loss in Tampa on Thursday. However, they have lost three of four, including once in OT and once in a shootout after blowing a 3-1 lead in the final 90 seconds of regulation. The Thrashers have lost four straight and are 0-1 without Kovalchuk, who is on IR with a broken foot. The Thrashers lost their last three at home. This afternoon's game starts a stretch of four straight and nine of their next 10 at home for Ottawa.
Thrashers -- They are trying to find themselves without Kovalchuk and that won't be easy, but they might have taken a step in the right direction in the third period Thursday. Atlanta was dominated through 40 minutes and trailed 3-0, but they peppered Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov with 20 of their 41 shots and scored three goals to make a game of it before losing 4-3. Zach Bogosian scored twice and Todd White had his first multi-point game of the season.
"That's great, but we lost," Colby Armstrong said. "It's not enough. It's not good enough. It's a big game for us. Coming out and giving up a three goal lead right off the bat like that -- it's tough to come back on these guys. We gotta pull our heads out of our you-know-what."
Senators -- The first time they played the Lightning, the Sens came away with a 7-1 victory. The second time wasn't as kind as Steven Stamkos and Co. dominated them a 5-2 victory. And, now Ottawa has to do with some injuries. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov could be out for a few weeks with a right elbow injury and center Jason Spezza sat out Thursday's game with an upper-body injury. He's listed as day to day. The Senators have also struggled with penalty problems in the last two games. Florida had seven power-play chances to Ottawa's one on Wednesday night and TampaBay had six to the Sens' three Thursday. Ottawa gave up three power-play goals in the state of Florida.
"Right now, we're not getting the breaks on the calls," Senators coach Cory Clouston said, according to the Ottawa Sun.
Who's hot -- Atlanta's Rich Peverley is on a six-game points streak and has at least one in eight of the Thrashers' nine games. He leads the team with 11 points on 5 goals and 6 assists. Nik Antropov is still seeking his first goal as a Thrasher, but he has eight assists, including four in the last three games. Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson is on a six-game point scoring streak (3-8-11). He has been held pointless only once this season. Mike Fisher had a four-game point streak snapped in Tampa.
Injury report -- Atlanta's injury list is headlined by Kovalchuk, who could be out up to five weeks with a broken bone in his right foot. Boris Valabik (back) and Kari Lehtonen (ankle) remain on injured reserve as well. Ottawa's injury list includes Volchenkov (out) and Spezza (day-to-day). Starting goaltender Pascal Leclaire had been suffering from flu-like symptoms, but appears OK now.
Stat pack -- Ottawa is already 3-1 vs. Southeast Division teams this season with wins over Atlanta, TampaBay and Florida. Atlanta is 1-1-1 against the Northeast Division. … Ottawa's Chris Neil entered Friday's action second in the NHL with 52 hits. Atlanta's leader is Bogosian, who has 15. … Peverley has won 63 percent of his faceoffs (70-41), but Atlanta as a team is only 50 percent. Ottawa, though, is worse at 47.7 percent.
Puck drop -- "The teams that we lost against are no slouches," Thrashers coach John Anderson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of losses to Montreal, San Jose and twice to Washington. "There were times last year where we didn't compete, but this year we're getting closer, and with a little bit of patience and a little bit of luck here and there and our games (can) have a different outcome."
-- Dan Rosen, NHL.com