NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, February 21st
(All times eastern)
Atlanta Thrashers (21-32-6) at San Jose Sharks (39-8-9), 4 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers have acquitted themselves quite well
so far on their swing through the Western United States. The team has yet to
face its toughest challenge of the four-game road trip, however, a matchup
with the Western Conference-leading San Jose Sharks this afternoon at HP
Atlanta has gone 2-0-1 thus far on the trek, opening things up with an
impressive 8-4 victory at Anaheim on Sunday and following with a shootout
triumph over Los Angeles one night later. The win streak came to an end
Thursday in Phoenix, although the Thrashers did manage to pick up a point in a
4-3 shootout setback to the Coyotes.
The contest wasn't decided until the eighth round of the shootout phase, when
Phoenix's Daniel Carcillo scored on a backhander after goaltender Mikael
Tellqvist thwarted the Thrashers' Colby Armstrong's chance.
Atlanta sent the game into overtime on Ilya Kovalchuk's goal with just 53
seconds remaining in the third period. The star sniper has now tallied in six
consecutive outings and has nine goals and 13 assists over that span.
Thrashers netminder Kari Lehtonen performed well in a losing effort, compiling
37 saves over regulation and overtime and stopping 6-of-8 attempts during the
shootout. Atlanta was outshot by a 40-22 margin on the night.
Bryan Little added a goal and an assist for Atlanta, which has won four of its
last five road tests despite an undesirable 9-17-2 away mark for the season.
The Thrashers now square off against a San Jose squad that has amassed a
stellar 25-2-3 record at the Shark Tank this season and tops the West with 87
points. The Sharks have also taken the first two tests of a current three-game
residency, following up a 4-2 victory over Edmonton on Tuesday with Thursday's
decision over Los Angeles by an identical score.
San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 30 shots and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Lukas
Kaspar, Patrick Marleau and Milan Michalek each contributed goals to the
Like Kovalchuk, Marleau has been on a scoring tear as of late. The Sharks
captain has notched a goal in four straight games and has racked up 10 points
(7 goals, 3 assists) over the team's last six tilts. Marleau's 33 goals on the
season are just one short of a career high set in 2005-06.
Teammate Joe Pavelski had a four-game goal streak snapped in Wednesday's win,
although he did assist on Michalek's marker.
These teams will be meeting for the first time since the Sharks recorded a 5-1
victory in Atlanta on March 22, 2007. San Jose is 7-1 with two ties lifetime
against the Thrashers, who are winless (4 losses, 1 tie) in five previous
visits to HP Pavilion.
02/21 10:35:21 ET