NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, January 18th (All times eastern)
Atlanta Thrashers (19-21-4-2) at Carolina Hurricanes (15-19-9-2), 1:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of Southeast Division foes meet tonight, as the Atlanta Thrashers enter the RBC Center to battle the Carolina Hurricanes in the finale of a home-and-home series.
The Thrashers have 44 points and are five behind Tampa Bay for first place in the Southeast. Carolina is in third just three behind Atlanta.
Atlanta was dealt a 4-3 loss by the Hurricanes on Friday night at Philips Arena. Jeff O'Neill registered his second career hat trick to lead the Hurricanes.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored a pair of goals for Atlanta, which is winless in its last nine games (0-7-1-1).
Byron Dafoe made 22 saves and Shawn McEachern also scored in the loss.
The Thrashers did receive promising news early on Friday when star forward Dany Heatley returned to practice. It was Heatley's first practice with the team since the tragic September car accident that claimed teammate Dan Snyder's life. Heatley was the driver in the one-car accident, and suffered a broken jaw, a knee injury, a minor concussion, a contusion on his lung and a bruised kidney.
Kevyn Adams also scored on Friday for the Hurricanes, who won for the first time in four games (1-2-1). Kevin Weekes turned aside 27-of-30 shots in the victory.
O'Neill had just one goal in his previous 11 games before Friday night's offensive outburst. O'Neill has 192 career goals, tying Pat Verbeek for fifth place on the franchise's all-time list.
O'Neill's only other career hat trick took place back on January 31, 1997 when the Hurricanes where still in Hartford, The Whalers lost that one 6-3 in Anaheim.
The Hurricanes have won two straight meetings and are 16-2-4 all-time against Atlanta. In their franchise history, the Thrashers have managed just one victory in 11 trips to Raleigh (1-9-1).
01/18 10:15:38 ET