Preview: Thrashers (15-10-3) at Canucks (16-14-0)
Season series -- This is the lone meeting between the teams this season. Atlanta earned a 4-3 shootout victory against the Canucks at Philips Arena on Jan. 2. Henrik Sedin had two goals for Vancouver in the loss.
Big story -- After a solid start, the Thrashers have cooled down as of late with losses in three of their last four games. The Canucks, meanwhile, begin an eight-game homestand after losing the last two contests of their four-game road trip.
Team Scope :
Thrashers -- Offense was hard to come by for Atlanta on Wednesday night, as Miikka Kiprusoff made 24 saves in a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome. Colby Armstrong scored the lone goal for the Thrashers, although it was a rebound that went off his skate and into the net midway through the third period. Thursday concludes Atlanta's four-game road trip.
"We're just one of those teams that like to make the perfect play, and sometimes it's not there," Thrashers coach John Anderson said.
Rookie Evander Kane sat out Wednesday night's game but will likely play in his hometown of Vancouver where he also played junior hockey with the WHL's Giants. He is expected to have over 100 family members and friends in attendance.
Canucks -- Vancouver started off its road trip brilliantly with victories in New Jersey and Philadelphia. But things went south when the Canucks headed south, as they suffered back-to-back defeats at Carolina and Nashville. Martin Erat scored three times against Roberto Luongo on Tuesday night.
"We made a few mistakes, but you can only go to the well so many times before it bites you," Luongo said. "Taking penalties every game, you get away with it sometimes, but it's going to hurt you once in a while."
Who's hot -- Thrashers forward Rich Peverley was the catalyst for Armstrong's goal on Wednesday night and is tied for the team lead in scoring with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists). … Henrik Sedin had two assists for the fourth straight game on Tuesday, giving the Canucks' No. 1 center 12 points in eight games since brother Daniel returned after missing more than six weeks with a broken foot.
Injury report -- Defenseman MArk Popovichas an undisclosed lower body injury and didn not play on Wednesday. … Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler is questionable after leaving Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury, while center Alex Bolduc (shoulder) hopes to return next week. Left wing Michael Grabner (ankle) is out indefinitely but has been cleared to skate by the Canucks medical staff. Pavol Demitra (shoulder) is progressing nicely and hopes to be back by the end of this month.
Stat pack -- Ten of Vancouver's 16 wins have been by three goals or more, but the Canucks are just 4-4 in one-goal games.
Puck drop -- Following tonight's contest the Thrashers return home to face the Canadiens on saturday. They play four of their next six games at Philips arena before finishing December with four straight road contests... If the Canucks are going to make a move in both the Northwest Division and Western Conference standings, now is the time. With their next eight games on home ice, Vancouver does not play another road game until Dec. 27 at Calgary.
Tonight's contest begins at 7:00pm PT and can be seen on Canucks TV Pay-Per-View. Listen live on the TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at team1040.ca.
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