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Friday, April 8th (All times eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (39-30-11) at Atlanta Thrashers (34-34-12), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The desperate Carolina Hurricanes will take their postseason quest into the final weekend of the season when they visit the Atlanta Thrashers for tonight's battle at Philips Arena.

After the Rangers lost in regulation to the Thrashers last night, the Hurricanes are still just points behind New York for the eighth and final playoff berth in the East. Carolina has two games left in the regular season compared to two for the Rangers and can pull even with idle New York tonight.

Carolina has been terrific in the latter stages of the season, recording a point in its last five games (4-0-1) and compiling a 7-1-1 mark over nine contests.

Hurricanes captain Eric Staal helped lead his teammates to a victory Wednesday against the visiting Detroit Red Wings, posting three assists in the 3-0 victory at RBC Center. Cam Ward also made 42 saves to record his fourth shutout of the season.

Staal, who has 33 goals and 75 points this year, has led by example down the stretch, amassing 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) over the last nine games.

"We needed to get the win tonight and we did," Staal said. "Now we have to beat Atlanta."

Erik Cole, Derek Joslin and Jeff Skinner all scored for the Hurricanes, who are just 17-17-6 as the guest this year and are playing their final road tilt of the regular season tonight.

Carolina will complete its 2010-11 schedule tomorrow night against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Hurricanes have fared well against Atlanta this season, winning the first four encounters between the clubs before the Thrashers notched an overtime win in Raleigh on March 9. Carolina has still won seven of nine and 10 of the last 15 overall matchups and has claimed the last five meetings in Atlanta.

The Thrashers ended a two-game slide and relished in their spoiler role Thursday in New York, as Ondrej Pavelec stopped 29 shots for his fourth shutout of the season in Atlanta's 3-0 win at Madison Square Garden.

Rob Schremp had a goal and an assist while Andrew Ladd and Eric Boulton each added a goal for the Thrashers.

It's unclear if Pavelec will get the start on consecutive nights for Atlanta or if backup Chris Mason will anchor the crease.

Atlanta has a 17-15-7 record as the host this year and is playing its final two games of the regular season on home ice. The Thrashers will complete their 2010-11 schedule with Sunday's tilt against Pittsburgh.

04/08 11:04:00 ET


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