NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, November 5th (All times eastern)
Atlanta Thrashers (5-3-3-1) at Buffalo Sabres (6-5-1-0), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers try to halt a three-game winless streak this evening when they kick off a three-game road trip in Buffalo against the Sabres at the HSBC Arena.
Atlanta slipped to 0-2-1 over its last three on Saturday by skating to a 2-2 tie with the San Jose Sharks. Jeff Cowan and Vyacheslav Kozlov each scored for the Thrashers, who blew a lead late in the game.
Leading by a goal late in regulation, Atlanta netminder Pasi Nurminen could not control a shot up high by Wayne Primeau and the puck went to Marco Sturm, who knocked it in an empty side of the net with 2:54 to play in the final period.
Nurminen turned aside 33 shots for the Thrashers and lowered his goals-against average to 1.93.
After a surprising 4-0-2-1 start, the Thrashers are 1-3-1-0 and have scored 10 goals in those five games. To make matters worse the team's second leading scorer, Marc Savard (5g, 9a), left Sunday's contest in the second period with an ankle injury and will be out eight to 10 weeks.
The team's leading scorer, Ilya Kovalchuk, has an NHL-best 11 goals and six assists for 17 points, but saw his seven-game point streak ended in Sunday's stalemate. He was, though, named the league's Offensive Player of the Month on Tuesday thanks to his strong October.
Kovalchuk also averaged 25 minutes of ice time per contest, and led the league with 61 shots on net. He also posted a pair of hat tricks during a four-game goal scoring streak from October 18-25, as the team relied on him more due to absence of Dany Heatley, who was involved in the fatal car accident that claimed the life of teammate Dan Snyder.
Buffalo, meanwhile, also enters tonight's contest after a 1-1 deadlock with the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Martin Biron made 34 saves and James Patrick scored the only goal for Buffalo, which is 4-1-1 in its last six.
The goaltenders controlled the scoreless third period and overtime. Biron stopped 13 shots in the third and three more in the extra period, while Ottawa netminder Patrick Lalime came up with 11 saves in the third and five in overtime.
Biron made two big saves on Radek Bonk just over a minute into overtime, turning aside a shot from the slot and another from the doorstep. Lalime had to stop Brian Campbell from the left circle just before time expired.
Chris Drury assisted on Patrick's goal and has at least one point in nine of his last 10 games for Buffalo. He leads the team with eight assists and 11 points.
Atlanta won three of the four matchups against the Sabres last season and has been victorious in six of the last eight meetings. The Thrashers, though, have lost in two of three and in four of their last six trips to Buffalo.
11/05 17:38:40 ET