NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, January 9th (All times eastern)
Atlanta Thrashers (22-16-6) at Carolina Hurricanes (19-15-6), 1:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes are chasing the Atlanta Thrashers in the standings and their Southeast Division rivals are coming off a less- than-stellar effort.
The Hurricanes will look to take advantage of that this afternoon and extend a six-game point streak as they host the Thrashers at RBC Center.
Carolina bounced back from a pair of overtime defeats to record a 5-3 victory over Florida on Friday. The Hurricanes fell behind by two goals in the first period, but got a pair of scores from both rookie Jeff Skinner and Erik Cole to improve to 4-0-2 in their last six games.
"I didn't feel, even at 2-0 [down], that we had gotten dominated in the play," said Carolina head coach Paul Maurice.
Skinner also had an assist and leads all rookies with 31 points, while Eric Staal scored his 20th goal of the season to become just the third player in club history to reach that mark in six straight seasons. The others were Kevin Dineen and Ron Francis.
In just his sixth start of the season and second since late November, Justin Peters made 32 saves.
Peters has never faced Atlanta but may make a second straight start today with Cam Ward dealing with a minor undisclosed injury. Deemed a game-time decision by Maurice, Ward is 6-2-0 with a 2.23 goals-against average and one shutout in his last eight versus the Thrashers.
Carolina, which is six points back of third-place Atlanta, was without both Joni Pitkanen (lower body) and Jussi Jokinen (upper body) for a fifth straight game. Pitkanen was cleared to return medically on Saturday, but his status is in doubt after his wife went into labor yesterday morning.
Things looked good for the Thrashers on Friday when Tobias Enstrom scored just 2 1/2 minutes into his club's game versus the Maple Leafs, but Toronto ripped off nine straight goals to hand Atlanta a 9-3 setback.
Patrice Cormier and Andrew Ladd scored in the third period to stop the bleeding, with Cormier getting the first of his NHL career, and Atlanta gave up five power-play goals in having a two-game win streak end while losing for the sixth time in nine games.
Ondrej Pavelec started the game but did not finish as he gave up five goals on 24 shots. Chris Mason came in and turned away just 6-of-10 shots.
"Things happen -- it was embarrassing to the fans," Pavelec said. "We try to get the fans to buy the tickets and we show them this one. We took the day off. It's embarrassing for our fans but tomorrow's another day."
Atlanta is five points back of Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay and will look to win a fourth straight game in Carolina this evening, but will do so without Ben Eager. The forward was suspended for four games after delivering a blow to the head of Toronto's Colby Armstrong, an action that drew a match penalty for attempt to injure during the game.
The 'Canes kicked off the 2010-11 rivalry with a 3-2 home shootout victory on Dec. 16 for their fourth victory in the last five meetings. Sergei Samsonov had the game-winner in the tiebreaker, Staal scored and Ward made 45 saves.
Mason made 27 saves in the loss and is 2-2-1 with a 1.39 GAA in his career versus the Hurricanes. Pavelec is 2-3-0 with a 4.03 GAA when facing them.
01/09 10:31:59 ET