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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 the Igloo.

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 this point.

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 ankle injury.

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 Philadelphia.

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


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