NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, March 19th (All times eastern)
Carolina Hurricanes (39-30-5) at Atlanta Thrashers (31-35-8), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes will aim for their seventh win in eight tries tonight, when they visit the Atlanta Thrashers for a Southeast Division matchup at Philips Arena.
The Hurricanes have played terrific hockey since early last month and are 12-3-2 over their last 17 games. However, Carolina is still fighting to hold onto first place in the Southeast, as Washington is just three points back. The Hurricanes and Capitals have two regular-season tests left against each other.
Carolina's latest victory came in convincing fashion Sunday against the visiting Ottawa Senators. Joe Corvo stung his former team as he registered the first hat trick of his career to lift the Hurricanes to the 5-1 decision at the RBC Center.
Carolina acquired Corvo and Patrick Eaves on February 11 and sent Mike Commodore and Corey Stillman to Ottawa. Corvo, a 30-year-old defenseman, has six goals, nine assists and a plus-six rating in 15 games since joining the Hurricanes. He has a total of 12 goals and 42 points on the year.
Scott Walker posted a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes, who recovered from Friday's 7-1 drubbing by Buffalo to win for the sixth time in their last seven games. Eric Staal collected a season-high three assists and Sergei Samsonov had two helpers.
Cam Ward stopped 16-of-17 shots to pick up his 33rd win of the season. Ward has started 12 consecutive games, going 9-2-1 over that span.
In injury news, the Hurricanes will be without their second-leading scorer for the next two-to-three weeks, as forward Ray Whitney underwent surgery Saturday to repair a bursa in his leg. Whitney has 25 goals and 59 points on the season.
Tonight marks the first of two straight on the road for Carolina, which is 17-18-2 as the visitors this year, but has won three of its last four away from Raleigh.
Meanwhile, the Thrashers lost for the 13th time in 15 games Tuesday, as they were handed a close loss in Philadelphia. Vinny Prospal scored the game- winning goal in the third period and Antero Niittymaki came up with a huge save in the final seconds to lead the Flyers to the 3-2 decision at the Wachovia Center.
Ilya Kovalchuk's 50th goal of the season brought the Thrashers within 3-2 with only 30 seconds remaining in regulation, but his final blast failed to tie it up as the Thrashers lost their third straight game. Niittymaki made a right pad save on a blast by Kovalchuk from the low slot with one second remaining in regulation to preserve the win.
Kovalchuk notched 50 goals for the second time in his career and is two markers shy of his career-high total of 52 from the 2005-06 season. The Russian sniper is second in the NHL in goals this year, trailing countryman Alex Ovechkin of Washington and his 58 tallies.
Chris Thorburn also tallied in the loss while Kari Lehtonen was strong with 44 saves for Atlanta, which has almost been mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. The Thrashers are 12 points out of the last postseason berth in the East with just seven games left.
The Thrashers are playing the first of two straight at home tonight and will also welcome Washington on Friday. Atlanta is 18-16-3 at Philips Arena this season and has won two of its last three on home ice.
Carolina is 4-1-1 against the Thrashers this season and has won all three encounters at Philips Arena. The Hurricanes have taken three straight, six of seven and eight of their last 11 in Atlanta.
03/19 10:51:02 ET