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Friday, December 30th (All times eastern)

Atlanta Thrashers (16-16-6) at Buffalo Sabres (25-11-2), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Rookie Atlanta goaltender Kari Lehtonen makes his return to the net tonight when the Thrashers visit the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena.

Lehtonen, the second-overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, has been limited to only one period of action this season due to a groin injury. Lehtonen will give fellow rookie Michael Garnett a rest, as he has started 16 consecutive games.

Atlanta had a two-game winning streak halted in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss to Philadelphia. Sami Kapanen scored the game-winning goal just 13 seconds into OT to lift the Flyers.

Niclas Havelid, Eric Boulton and Andy Sutton all netted goals for the Thrashers, who are 6-0-3 in their last nine games. Garnett, who had posted back-to-back shutouts heading into the contest, allowed four goals on 32 shots faced.

The Thrashers, who are 7-9-2 on the road, will visit Washington on Sunday.

Buffalo, meanwhile, had a two-game winning streak ended in Thursday's 4-3 shootout loss in Toronto. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Mats Sundin each scored in the shootout to lift the Maple Leafs.

Tim Connolly had a goal and two assists for the Sabres, who had a two-game win streak halted and lost for just the second time in 11 contests. Buffalo fell to 17-2-2 in its last 21 games.

Martin Biron finished with 25 saves in defeat, losing his second straight start on the heels of a 13-start winning streak.

Buffalo, which is 12-5-1 at HSBC Arena, opens a six-game homestand tonight and will host Florida on Sunday.

The Sabres and Thrashers split four meetings during the 2003-04 season.

12/30 10:53:24 ET


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