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Saturday, January 13th (All times eastern)

Atlanta Thrashers (24-14-8) at Carolina Hurricanes (24-18-4), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes have a chance to move closer to first place in the Southeast Division when the defending Stanley Cup champions host the reeling Atlanta Thrashers tonight at the RBC Center.

Atlanta held a comfortable lead over the Hurricanes for the division's top spot heading into the new year, but a five-game losing streak by the Thrashers coupled with three straight Carolina victories has pushed the 'Canes within four points of Atlanta's lead.

Carolina has also won all three meetings between the rivals this season and the Thrashers have lost in each of their last three visits to Raleigh.

Atlanta's slide continued Friday in New Jersey, where Scott Gomez and Sergei Brylin each scored within a 28-second span in the third period to lift the Devils to a 2-1 victory.

The loss spoiled a strong 32-save performance in goal from the Thrashers' Kari Lehtonen, who was peppered with 15 shots over the final 20 minutes.

Scott Mellanby had the lone goal for Atlanta in his first game back from a shoulder injury which kept the 40-year-old sidelined since December 19.

The Thrashers will conclude a four-game road trip this evening. Atlanta is a solid 13-9-4 away from home for the season but has lost its last four contests as the visiting team.

Carolina will try to feed off Thursday's improbable comeback win over Florida. The Hurricanes erupted for six goals in the third period to erase a 3-0 hole and rally for a 6-4 victory over the Panthers at the RBC Center.

Chad LaRose, Erik Cole and Scott Walker each posted a goal and an assist for Carolina, which scored five times in a span of 8:22 in the final frame to surge in front. Rod Brind'Amour finished with three assists on the evening.

Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward gave up three goals on 31 shots through the first two periods before being replaced by John Grahame, who needed to make just six saves in the third to pick up the win.

Carolina came back from a three-goal deficit to win for the first time since doing so against the New York Islanders on November 15, 1998. It was also just the Hurricanes' second victory in 19 games this season (2-15-2) when trailing after two periods.

The 'Canes are a perfect 16-0-0 in 2006-07 when leading after two periods.

Atlanta has lost seven of its last nine overall encounters with Carolina and is only 4-13-1 (one tie) lifetime in Raleigh.

01/13 10:30:34 ET


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