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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, February 20th (All times eastern)

Atlanta Thrashers (30-22-9) at Carolina Hurricanes (30-24-7), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers' recent slide has helped create a three-way battle for first place in the Southeast Division. A key matchup in the race is scheduled for tonight, as the Carolina Hurricanes welcome the Thrashers to the RBC Center.

The Thrashers have dropped four straight games and as a result, have slipped into a tie with Tampa Bay for the Southeast lead and the third playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Carolina is just two points behind the clubs with 67 points.

Atlanta's latest setback came Saturday in Ottawa. The Senators got third- period goals from Mike Comrie, Dean McAmmond and Mike Fisher to post the 5-3 comeback win at Scotiabank Place.

Vyacheslav Kozlov had a goal and an assist and Marian Hossa had two helpers for Atlanta, which also lost for the seventh time in eight games. Steve McCarthy and Glen Metropolit each had a tally for the Thrashers.

Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves for the Thrashers, who are 1-4-0 on a six-game road trip that ends this evening.

After tonight, Atlanta will return home for an important two-game homestand against Tampa Bay and Carolina. The Lightning will be at Philips Arena on Thursday while the Hurricanes will visit on Saturday.

The Hurricanes have won four of their last six games and are coming off Saturday's triumph in Montreal. Rod Brind'Amour scored twice to reach 400 goals for his NHL career, and Carolina earned a 5-3 win over the Canadiens.

Eric Staal finished with a goal and two assists, while Erik Cole and Chad LaRose also lit the lamp for the Hurricanes.

Cam Ward made a season-high 42 stops for Carolina, but the night belonged to Brind'Amour, who scored with 9.5 seconds left in the second period to give Carolina a 3-2 edge, a lead the 'Canes would never relinquish.

The Hurricanes, who are 15-11-4 as the host club this year, kick off a mini two-game homestand tonight. They will welcome the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

Carolina has held the upper hand in the season series with Atlanta so far, winning three of the four encounters. The Hurricanes have also won seven of the last 10 meetings overall and five of the last nine matchups in Raleigh.

02/20 10:59:57 ET

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