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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, January 16th (All times eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (14-19-9-2) at Atlanta Thrashers (19-20-4-2), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers try to halt an eight-game winless slide tonight when they welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to Philips Arena for the opener of a home-and-home.

Atlanta is 0-6-1-1 during its lull, and has slipped down in the Southeast Division standings. With 44 points, the Thrashers are five behind the first- place Tampa Bay Lightning.

On Wednesday, Bob Hartley's club dropped a 2-1 decision to visiting Montreal. Randy Robitaille scored the lone goal for the Thrashers, while Byron Dafoe took the loss despite stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced.

The Thrashers haven't won since December 26 against Tampa Bay.

Atlanta got more bad news when Marc Savard left the game in the second period with a Grade 1-2 MCL sprain of the right knee. The injury occurred in the second period, when he collided knee-to-knee with the Canadiens' Michael Komisarek. His status for the near future is unknown.

The loss of Savard, who had returned from a concussion in the contest, hampers an Atlanta attack that has struggled recently. The Thrashers have managed just one goal in four of their last five games.

All-Star starter Ilya Kovalchuk is first on the list of players who must pick up the scoring pace. The dynamic Russian has gone four straight without finding the net, and has managed only four goals in the past 18 contests.

The Thrashers, who have lost two straight at home, will visit Carolina on Sunday.

Carolina, meanwhile, is 0-2-1 in its last three on the heels of a two-game winning streak. On Thursday the Canes dropped a 5-4 decision in Tampa. Martin St. Louis posted his second career hat trick in the first period for the Bolts, who produced all of their offense in the opening frame.

Josef Vasicek finished with a goal and two assists for Carolina, which dropped to 2-5-1 in its last eight. Ron Francis and Erik Cole each added a score and a helper.

The Hurricanes, 0-5-1 on Fridays this season, open a two-game homestand when they host the Thrashers on Sunday.

Carolina defeated Atlanta, 5-1, in Raleigh on November 13 and is 15-2-4 in the all-time series. The Thrashers won their first-ever home game against the Hurricanes last March 26 (1-6-3).

01/16 10:14:18 ET

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