|BOS||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
|ATL||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
GAME: Boston Bruins (19-21-8) at Atlanta Thrashers (23-20-6).
TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST.
Only two teams have won more games since the start of the new year than the surging Atlanta Thrashers.
Despite their improved play, the Thrashers look to avoid their first three-game losing streak since early December when they host the Boston Bruins.
Atlanta had lost four in a row with a 5-3 defeat at San Jose Dec. 6, but since then has won 13 of 20 games. The Thrashers are 7-3-0 since the start of 2006 with only the New Jersey Devils and division rival Carolina Hurricanes recording more wins.
After falling 8-6 Thursday to the Los Angeles Kings, the Thrashers dropped a 2-0 decision Saturday to the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
Atlanta was averaging 4.7 goals a game in January before facing Lightning goaltender John Grahame, who turned aside all 20 shots to record his second shutout of the season against Atlanta.
"It's only one game," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "It's not the end of the world."
Left wing Ilya Kovalchuk has led Atlanta's offense with 12 goals and six assists in 10 games this month. Right wing Marian Hossa has contributed nine goals and center Slava Kozlov has seven in that span.
The Thrashers were 16-17-6 at the close of 2005, three points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite racking up the wins, Atlanta begins play in eighth place, one point behind seventh-place Tampa Bay and just a point ahead of the ninth-place Toronto Maple Leafs.
Boston won for the third time in four games with a 3-2 victory Monday over the Washington Capitals and trail Atlanta by just six points for the final playoff spot.
Wayne Primeau enjoyed his best game with Boston since being acquired from the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 30 as part of the trade for Joe Thornton. Primeau scored twice, staking the Bruins to a 2-0 lead.
"It feels good, but at the same time it feels better to get the win and get the two points," Primeau said. "We need them."
Boston's 31-year-old rookie goaltender Tim Thomas has helped aid Boston's revival, taking over as the starter with fellow rookie Hannu Toivonen out with an ankle injury and Andrew Raycroft struggling in net.
Thomas has started the last five games, going 3-0-2 with a 1.92 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.
Boston has won six of the last nine meetings with Atlanta.
STANDINGS: Bruins - 46 points, 5th place, 24 PB, Northeast Division. Thrashers - 52 points, 3rd place, 18 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Bruins - Sergei Samsonov, 16 goals; Thornton, 24 assists; Patrice Bergeron, 37 points; Hal Gill, 66 PIM. Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 35 goals and 67 points; Marc Savard, 43 assists; Andy Sutton, 78 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Bruins - Power play: 15.6 percent (40 for 256), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (250 for 297), 10th. Thrashers - Power play: 20.3 percent (69 for 340), 4th. Penalty killing: 78.8 percent (246 for 312), 29th.
GOALTENDERS: Bruins - Thomas (3-0-2, 0 SO, 1.92 GAA); Raycroft (7-16-2, 0, 3.68). Thrashers - Kari Lehtonen (6-3-0, 1, 2.52); Mike Dunham (4-4-1, 1, 2.79).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Bruins, 2-1-1.
LAST MEETING: March 6, 2004; 2-2 tie. At Boston, Mike Knuble tied the game late for the Bruins. Atlanta's Pasi Nurminen stopped all five shots he faced in overtime.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bruins - 10-12-4 on the road; Thrashers - 13-8-4 at home.
|Apr 15 '06||BOS 3 at ATL 4||A. Sutton|
|Mar 21 '06||ATL 5 at BOS 4 - SO||J. Slater|
|Mar 02 '06||ATL 2 at BOS 3||M. Sturm|
|Jan 24 '06||BOS 3 at ATL 2||P. Axelsson|