NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 17th (All times eastern)
Atlanta Thrashers (15-25-5) at Nashville Predators (20-21-3), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - That Atlanta Thrashers will try to keep the momentum of their huge comeback win going tonight, as they visit the Nashville Predators and the Sommet Center.
The Thrashers entered last night's game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs having lost two straight, four of five and eight of their last 10 games. Things didn't get off to a great start, as Atlanta fell behind by three goals in the first period.
However, Ilya Kovalchuk and Bryan Little scored second-period goals and Kovalchuk forced overtime with another tally with 4:52 left in the third. Rich Peverley had assisted on both Kovalchuk goals, and he returned the favor by setting up Peverley for his first goal of the season, an overtime winner with 1:09 left in the frame.
Johan Hedberg allowed three goals on just eight shots in the opening period and was pulled in favor of Kari Lehtonen, who was perfect in making nine saves the rest of the way.
Lehtonen has won his lone career start versus Nashville, halting 23-of-26 shots faced, while Hedberg is 1-1-1 with a tie and 2.68 goals against average versus the club.
Kovalchuk, meanwhile, has six goals and an assist in six all-time games versus the Predators and leads Atlanta with 46 points this season. Atlanta's captain has six goals and three helpers in seven games this month.
Atlanta plays three of its next four on the road, where it is 7-12-3 this season. The club has lost four of its last five on the road and hosts Montreal on Tuesday before two straight contests as the visiting club.
The Thrashers haven't had much success in Nashville, as they have lost three of the four all-time meetings with the Predators there. Nashville has won two straight over Atlanta overall -- including a win at home on November 28 -- after dropping three in a row in the series and owns a slight 5-4 edge in the 10 all-time clashes against the Thrashers with the teams also skating to a tie.
Without top of its top scorers, the Predators were defeated by Montreal, 3-2 at the Bell Centre on Thursday. J.P. Dumont and Vernon Fiddler each had a goal for the Predators, who had won three of four coming into the game. Pekka Rinne made 17 stops in the loss.
Nashville was without leading goal-scorer Jason Arnott for a third straight game due to a lower-body injury. All-Star defenseman Shea Weber also missed Thursday's game due to a bruised foot suffered when he blocked a shot versus Toronto on Saturday. Both players are questionable for tonight.
Arnott leads Nashville with 15 goals, while Weber is second on the club with 31 points. Weber's 13 goals also lead all NHL defensemen.
Rinne had won three straight decisions before taking the loss to the Canadiens. He is still 3-3-0 with a 1.62 goals against average in six games this month, five of those starts. He also has a shutout over that span, his fourth of the season, and defeated the Thrashers back in November in his first-ever start against them.
Nashville is 12-7-1 as the host this year and will also welcome the New Jersey Devils to town on Monday.
01/17 10:39:04 ET