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Panthers-Thrashers Preview

Saturday, 02.04.2006 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

Panthers-Thrashers Preview

GAME: Florida Panthers (21-25-8) at Atlanta Thrashers (23-25-6).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

Wins continue to be hard to come by for the Atlanta Thrashers.

Atlanta will try to end a seven-game losing streak and earn a split of its home-and-home series with the Florida Panthers as the teams meet at Philips Arena.

Marc Savard has a goal and an assist Friday in a 5-2 loss to the Panthers in south Florida. The losing streak is Atlanta's worst since opening the 2002-03 season with nine straight losses.

The Thrashers' franchise record for consecutive losses is 12, set from Jan. 24-Feb. 20, 2000.

Atlanta has been held to two goals or less in its last six games. Ilya Kovalchuk, the team's leading scorer, has failed to score a goal in six straight games.

The top pick in the 2001 draft and a member of the Russian Olympic team that will compete later this month at the Turin Olympics, Kovalchuk went without a goal in six straight games from Nov. 29-Dec. 9 and Atlanta went 1-5 in that span.

While Atlanta coach Bob Hartley didn't single out Kovalchuk, it was clear he was disappointed with his recent play.

"It all comes down to our big guys," Hartley said. "Right now, we need more from certain guys. When things are going bad, every mistake ends up in your net."

Chris Gratton scored twice and Roberto Luongo made 37 saves in the win for the Panthers, who have alternated losses and wins in their last six games.

"Mentally, I think this game was huge," Gratton said. "We fought hard to get back. We're two teams in the same position, trying to climb into the playoff race."

It was the first multi-goal game for Gratton since Jan. 25, 2003, when he was with the Buffalo Sabres in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Luongo, who will play for Canada in Turin, is just 6-14-4 with a 3.33 goals-against average in 25 games, including 23 starts this season. He is just 2-5-1 with a 2.92 GAA in his career at Atlanta.

STANDINGS: Panthers - 50 points, 4th place, 28 PB, Southeast Division. Thrashers - 52 points, 3rd place, 26 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Olli Jokinen, 25 goals, 31 assists and 56 points; Gratton, 75 PIM. Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 35 goals and 68 points; Savard, 44 assists; Andy Sutton, 104 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Panthers - Power play: 15 percent (42 for 280), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.5 percent (292 for 354), 15th (tied). Thrashers - Power play: 19.4 percent (72 for 372), 7th. Penalty killing: 79 percent (274 for 347), 28th.

GOALTENDERS: Panthers - Luongo (21-21-8, 3 SO, 2.95 GAA); Jamie McLennan (0-4-0, 0, 3.09). Thrashers - Kari Lehtonen (6-8-0, 1, 2.96); Mike Dunham (4-4-1, 1, 2.79).

SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.

LAST MEETING: Friday; Panthers. 5-2. At Sunrise, Fla., Jon Sim, Gratton and Nathan Horton scored in the third period as the Panthers snapped a 2-2 tie. Savard had a goal and an assist for Atlanta.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 6-18-4 on the road; Thrashers - 13-11-4 at home.


Associated Press
2005-2006 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 18 '06ATL 1 at FLA 2 - OTM. Van Ryn
Apr 05 '06ATL 5 at FLA 2S. Mellanby
Mar 06 '06FLA 3 at ATL 4 - SOV. Kozlov
Feb 04 '06FLA 4 at ATL 6P. Stefan
Feb 03 '06ATL 2 at FLA 5J. Sim
Dec 17 '05FLA 1 at ATL 2I. Kovalchuk
Nov 26 '05FLA 4 at ATL 7V. Kozlov
Oct 05 '05ATL 0 at FLA 2N. Horton
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
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