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Senators-Thrashers Preview

Wednesday, 01.14.2009 / 7:30 PM

Associated Press

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Senators-Thrashers Preview
Ottawa Senators vs. Atlanta Thrashers

After giving up more goals in a game than they had in nearly a year, the Atlanta Thrashers return home on Wednesday night - although that hasn't offered much of advantage lately.

Atlanta looks for just its third victory at Philips Arena in two months as it hosts the Ottawa Senators, who finally found some offense in their last game.

The Thrashers (14-24-5), who have allowed 4.0 goals per game while losing 11 of their last 13 at home, are coming off an 8-4 loss to Florida on Saturday that capped a 1-2-0 trip. Atlanta got second-period goals from Todd White and Erik Christensen, but allowed five in the third.

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It was the most goals allowed in a game by the Thrashers since a 10-1 loss at Buffalo on Jan. 18.

"For two periods we played pretty well," said White, who notched two assists for the second straight game. "The third period we just fell apart. We made way too many mistakes and they capitalized on them."

White, who has a team-leading 28 assists this season, had 58 goals and 86 assists with the Senators from 2000-04.

Following his 29-save shutout of New Jersey on Thursday, Kari Lehtonen allowed seven goals to Florida on just 27 shots. He was replaced by Johan Hedberg after the Panthers scored four unanswered in the opening 12:01 of the third period.

"We have to forget about this and go forward," Lehtonen said.

In the teams' last meeting in Atlanta, though, Lehtonen made 28 saves as the Thrashers defeated Ottawa 3-2 on Dec. 20, 2007. Hedberg, meanwhile, is 0-4-0 with a 5.13 GAA in his last six starts against the Senators.

All-Star Ilya Kovalchuk will play his first game since being named Atlanta's seventh captain on Sunday. Kovalchuk, the team's leading scorer with 43 points in 2008-09, has 19 goals and 10 assists in 25 career games versus Ottawa.

Joining Kovalchuk's line will be center Rich Peverley, acquired off waivers from Nashville on Saturday. In 27 games this season, Peverley has two goals and seven assists.

While the Thrashers are happy at the expected return of Bryan Little, who leads the team with 19 goals but missed three games with bruised ribs, the Senators are thrilled coming off their first victory of 2009 - a 5-1 triumph over Carolina on Tuesday that snapped a five-game skid.

Ottawa (14-21-6), which averaged just 2.22 goals during a 1-7-1 stretch, scored its most goals since a 5-4 overtime win over Dallas on Dec. 20. The Senators have a league-low 98 goals in 2008-09.

"Any time it's been a while it definitely feels good," said Mike Fisher, who in his 500th NHL game scored his first goal since Nov. 27. "I've just got to keep going."

So do the Senators on the road, where they've dropped 16 of 17.

Rookie Brian Elliott should help. Called up from AHL Binghamton on Friday, the 23-year-old stopped 23 shots on Tuesday after making 25 saves in Saturday's 2-0 loss to New York.

"It's a good team in there and it's kind of a mystery why we're at the bottom of the standings, but if we keep playing games like that I don't think we'll be there for long," said Elliott, who had 28 saves in a 3-1 win at Atlanta on Oct. 10, 2007 during his NHL debut.

Atlanta has won three of four at home against the Senators.

2008-2009 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 28 '09OTT 3 at ATL 6M. Reasoner
Jan 14 '09OTT 3 at ATL 2D. McAmmond
Dec 16 '08ATL 4 at OTT 1C. Armstrong
Dec 03 '08ATL 1 at OTT 5J. Spezza
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
D. Heatley42172239-45482
D. Alfredsson41122739+11250
J. Spezza42181836-53253
F. Kuba3412324+91410
A. Vermette425914-103020
M. Fisher3841014-142701
A. Picard405813+3851
N. Foligno426612-163020
C. Kelly425712-33001
J. Ruutu383811+07000
J. Winchester363710-21801
C. Phillips42459-193200
S. Donovan40437+21400
D. McAmmond31336+21202
B. Bell21325-41220
C. Neil36235-1110600
B. Lee18145-3211
C. Schubert30134-52010
A. Volchenkov31213-132201
I. Zubov10022-1000
J. Smith42101-52901
R. Shannon2011-1000
C. Bass12000-21500
L. Richardson2000-3200
M. Carkner1000+0000
Z. Smith1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
A. Auld259-11-5677172.64.907
M. Gerber144-9-1403972.86.899
B. Elliott32-1-05821.69.939
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
I. Kovalchuk44162743-132952
T. White44142842-61490
V. Kozlov44162541-112271
B. Little41191332-11273
R. Hainsey4451722-181430
J. Williams4171118-9842
C. Armstrong4412517-25322
M. Reasoner447613+02200
E. Christensen3031013-7800
J. Slater434812-32600
N. Havelid4411011+73000
E. Perrin413710-9810
N. Oystrick34369-121700
R. Peverley28279-31500
T. Enstrom44189+53001
C. Thorburn44448-85200
M. Schneider31358-174010
J. Crabb23347-22801
E. Boulton40257-110200
B. Valabik26055-56300
G. Exelby30044-64900
B. Sterling3101-2000
Z. Bogosian10000-31300
C. Stuart1000+1000
S. Lehman1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Hedberg196-7-3585133.62.887
K. Lehtonen195-12-2646393.39.900
O. Pavelec113-6-0322753.55.884