Momentum Building? Hurricanes Visit Atlanta

Former Hurricanes forward and current Thrashers captain Andrew Ladd, left, will look to help Atlanta knock off the Canes and move into a tie for first in the Southeast Division. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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).

Atlanta is among the NHL's surprise teams, using a rebuilt lineup — a lot of which came from last year's Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks roster — to sit in a tie for sixth in the Eastern Conference and just two points behind Southeast-leading Washignton.The Thrashers are among the league's top scoring teams, ranking fifth in the NHL with 3.09 goals per game. They have been fueled by their power play, which converts at a 22.1 percent clip (seventh in the NHL), and stellar goaltending from Ondrej Pavelec (10-6-3, 1.80 GAA, .943 S%). Pavelec took the shootout loss to Tampa Bay Wednesday, moving his career record to 0-7 in the skils competition and 0-3 on the season.

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%.

Carolina's lineup and lines should remain the same, with Bryan Rodney again subbing for injured Jay Harrison.

For more on the game, visit Bird Watchers Anonymous.

The puck drops in Atlanta at 7 p.m., with the game broadcast by FSC and on 99.9 The Fan.

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