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Thursday, January 18th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (25-17-5) at Atlanta Thrashers (26-14-8), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers look to avenge a recent loss to the Montreal Canadiens when the two teams face off tonight in a key Eastern Conference matchup from Philips Arena.

The Canadiens dealt Atlanta a 4-2 defeat in Montreal on January 9, led by a two-goal, one-assist performance by the Habs' Michael Ryder. That setback was part of a five-game losing streak for the Southeast Division-leading Thrashers, but the club has since rebounded to win its last two contests.

After coming through with a 4-3 shootout victory at rival Carolina on Saturday, the Thrashers returned home and easily handled Los Angeles by a 6-2 count on Tuesday.

Marian Hossa notched his second hat trick of the season to lead the way, while Glen Metropolit added a goal and an assist for Atlanta. Kari Lehtonen stopped 28 shots in net.

Hossa is now tied for the NHL lead with 29 goals, along with Tampa Bay's duo of Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier and Anaheim's Teemu Selanne.

The Thrashers, who currently lead second-place Carolina by five points in the Southeast, are 12-5-4 at home for the season.

Montreal is currently in a rut, as the Habs have lost three consecutive games and six of their last eight outings. The slide has allowed Ottawa to pass the Canadiens for second place in the Northeast Division.

The Canadiens have been shut out in their last two defeats, including Tuesday's 4-0 home loss to Vancouver in which All-Star Roberto Luongo turned away all 30 Montreal shots he faced.

Montreal has been outscored by a decided 14-3 margin during its current three- game rut.

The Habs have traditionally been successful in Atlanta, however, posting an 8-2-2 (two ties) lifetime record in Philips Arena. Montreal has also taken eight of the last 11 games between the teams, including both encounters this season.

Atlanta is only 6-18-2 (two ties) all-time against the Canadiens.

01/18 10:37:29 ET


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