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Ailing Hossa won't face Senators

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
They’re two superstars whose names will be forever linked.

But forget the Dany Heatley vs. Marian Hossa comparisons tonight. That’s because Hossa, one of the Atlanta Thrashers’ biggest offensive threats, will sit out their matchup with the Ottawa Senators at Philips Arena (7 p.m., No TV, Team 1200) with a groin injury.

While Ilya Kovalchuk and Slava Kozlov are still very much in the picture, Hossa’s departure from the Thrasher mix means one less potential headache for head coach John Paddock and his unbeaten (4-0-0) Senators.

“I’m breathing a sigh of relief,” Paddock told reporters in Atlanta after the Senators’ pre-game skate today. “Obviously, he’s a tremendously dangerous player who can create so many things on his own … We’ll try our best to take advantage of (his absence).”

Comparisons between Heatley and Hossa have been inevitable – and frequent – since the two stars were traded for each other in August of 2005. They’ve both been among the National Hockey League’s most dynamic scorers since then, with Heatley notching back-to-back 50-goal and 100-plus point seasons in a Senators uniform. Hossa, meanwhile, has totalled 82 goals among his 192 points for Atlanta.

Tonight’s game matches a pair of teams off to vastly different starts to the new season. The Senators have been red-hot out of the gate, posting the NHL’s best record, while Atlanta is 0-2-0. However, the Thrashers won three out of four meetings with the Sens last season, including both games in Atlanta.

The Senators are back home at Scotiabank Place on Thursday night to face another Southeast Division foe, the Carolina Hurricanes (7:30 p.m., A-Channel, Team 1200). About 2,000 tickets remain for that game. Only 250 are left for Montreal Canadiens’ visit on Oct. 18.

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