NHL Preview from The Sports Network |
Monday, December 1st
(All times eastern)
Atlanta Thrashers (12-9-3-1) at Pittsburgh Penguins (5-12-4-1), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The first-place Atlanta Thrashers seek their second
consecutive victory tonight when they visit the lowly Pittsburgh Penguins at
Atlanta hopped into first by defeating Tampa Bay, 2-1, on Saturday at Philips
Arena. The Thrashers, with 28 points, are one ahead of the Lightning in the
Southeast Division, although the latter club has played five fewer games to
In the key victory, J.P. Vigier tallied a power-play goal with 4:57 remaining
in the third period to complete an Atlanta comeback and provide the final
margin. Slava Kozlov scored the other marker for the Thrashers, who had lost
their previous two games.
Goaltender Pasi Nurminen stopped 27-of-28 shots and is now tied for second in
the league in wins with Martin Brodeur and Tomas Vokoun (12). Colorado's David
Aebischer leads the pack with 13.
Atlanta managed the victory without center Marc Savard, who served a one-game
suspension after biting the glove of Toronto's Darcy Tucker during a scrum
last Thursday. Savard has two goals in three games since returning from an
Thrashers winger Ilya Kovalchuk did not record a goal on Saturday, but he
remains the NHL leader with 17 -- two more than Columbus' Rick Nash and
Dallas' Bill Guerin. He is fourth in the league with 29 points overall.
Atlanta, 5-5-1-1 on the road, will host Boston on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has lost two straight and is 1-4-1-1 in the last seven.
But it's not just the team's on-ice performance that has been ominous, as we
saw yet another big-ticket player dumped by the Pens on Sunday.
Forward Martin Straka, who was tied for the team lead with 12 points and has
been a mainstay since 1997, was traded to Los Angeles in exchange for
defenseman Martin Strbak, 28, and left wing Sergei Anshakov, 19. The $4.35
million Straka is making this season was obviously the deciding factor in his
being dealt by the cash-poor Penguins.
On the ice, Pittsburgh has fallen to the Rangers and Hurricanes during its
recent skid, including Saturday's 4-3 loss in Carolina. The Canes' Radim
Vrbata posted his first hat trick of the season and the second of his career
to doom the Pens. Brian Holzinger, Patrick Boileau and Konstantin Koltsov each
found the back of the net in defeat.
Pittsburgh continued to play without captain Mario Lemieux, who is out
indefinitely with a hip strain. The Hall of Famer has now missed 12 straight
games because of the ailment.
The Penguins, 3-5-3 on home ice, will open a five-game road trip Wednesday in
Pittsburgh went 3-1 against Atlanta last season and has won 15 of the 16 all-
time meetings. The Thrashers are 1-7 at the Igloo.
12/01 10:32:04 ET