The Carolina Hurricanes, coming off a thrilling win in Florida, look to knock off another Southeast Division foe when they face the Thrashers in Atlanta Thursday. Both teams played Wednesday, with Carolina rallying from a 3-0 first-period deficit to beat the Panthers, 4-3, while Atlanta fell to the Lighting in a shootout in Tampa Bay.
The Canes are led by their recently formed top line of Eric Staal centering Erik Cole and Jeff Skinner. The trio — Skinner in particular — dominated the Panthers in Wednesday's victory. Next they face Atlanta's defense, which is led by newcomer Dustin Byfuglien (team-high 32 points) and Tobi Enstrom (22 points), and a forward corps that included one-time Hurricane and new Thrashers captain Andrew Ladd (29 points).
The Hurricanes have also received great goaltending from their No. 1, but Cam Ward got the hook early vs. the Panthers and backup Justin Peters stepped in and was the recipient of Carolina's big comeback, earning his first win of the 2010-11 season. Ward will get the call vs. Atlanta, while there's no word yet on if Pavelec will go again or if the Hurricanes will see Chris Mason in net.
Staal has been a thorn in the Thrashers' side throughout his career, registering 47 points (18 goals, 29 assists) in 42 career games against Atlanta. Ward is 15-8-2 all time against Atlanta. Mason is just 2-2 against the Canes in his career, but had a .960 save percentage and 1.26 goals-against average in those outings vs. Carolina. Pavelec has struggled against the Hurricanes, going 2-3 with a 4.03 GAA and .876 S%.
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The puck drops in Atlanta at 7 p.m., with the game broadcast by FSC and on 99.9 The Fan.