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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, March 8th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (33-29-6) at Atlanta Thrashers (35-23-10), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers will attempt to regain solo possession of first place in the Southeast Division tonight when they host the Montreal Canadiens at Philips Arena.

Both the Thrashers and Tampa Bay Lightning have 80 points. The Lightning defeated Edmonton on Wednesday to pull even with Atlanta in the standings, but the Thrashers have played one fewer game than Tampa Bay.

Atlanta comes into tonight's contest on a four-game winning streak. The Thrashers extended their winning ways on Tuesday with a 4-2 win over the Panthers. Keith Tkachuk scored his first two goals as a member of Atlanta in the win.

Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists and Marian Hossa also lit the lamp for the Thrashers. Kari Lehtonen stopped 38 shots.

Tonight's game will wrap a so far perfect four-game homestand for Atlanta, which will play in Florida on Saturday. The club is 17-10-6 at home this season.

Montreal, meanwhile, comes into the game one point behind Toronto and Carolina for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens at one point had a firm hold on a playoff spot, but the club has dropped 10 of its last 14 games to fall in the standings.

The club has also been out of action since Saturday when it dropped a 3-1 decision to Boston. Sheldon Souray notched the lone goal for the Canadiens, who have lost four of their last five.

Jaroslav Halak made 33 saves, but has now lost his last trio of starts after winning the first three of his career.

Tonight's game marks the fourth of a five-game road trip, a swing that has yet to produce a win for Montreal. The Canadiens are 14-17-3 on the road this year and wrap their trek on Saturday in St. Louis.

The two teams will meet for the fourth and final time this season. The Canadiens have captured all three games so far this year, and nine of the last 12 in the series overall.

Montreal has also won five of its last six in Atlanta.

03/08 10:50:38 ET

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