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Atlanta
Thrashers
43-28-11
Edmonton
Oilers
32-43-7

30 SOG
32 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
ATL
EDM
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Thrashers-Oilers Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 2:49 AM

Associated Press

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Thrashers-Oilers Preview
Atlanta Thrashers vs. Edmonton Oilers

The Atlanta Thrashers still are atop the Southeast Division, but they're starting to hear footsteps.

To try and end their recent slump, the Thrashers look for their first win in Edmonton in nearly 6 1/2 years as they meet the Oilers on Sunday.

The Thrashers are 2-4-0 with one tie all-time against the Oilers and haven't won at Rexall Place since Oct. 25, 2000.

Atlanta lost to Vancouver 3-2 on Saturday and has split the first two games of its season-high six-game road trip. Jon Sim and Ilya Kovalchuk tallied for the Thrashers, who lost for the fourth time in five games.

Kovalchuk has nine goals in his last nine games, giving him 32 for the season. He nearly tied the score with 1:27 left.

"(Vancouver goaltender Roberto) Luongo made a couple big saves and I missed an open net," said Kovalchuk, who needs one goal to tie Marian Hossa for the team lead. "I just missed it, not by much. What are you going to do? Tomorrow is a new game."

Kovalchuk has one goal in four career games against the Oilers, but none in his last three.

Despite its recent struggles, Atlanta (30-19-9) still leads the Southeast with 69 points, but has just a six-point lead over second-place Carolina. The Thrashers also have a seven-point edge on third-place Tampa Bay, though the Lightning have two games in hand.

Atlanta is expected to have newly acquired Eric Belanger in the lineup for this contest after he was traded twice in two days. The Thrashers acquired the center from Nashville on Saturday for defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski one day after the Predators obtained him from Carolina for center Josef Vasicek.

Belanger had eight goals and 12 assists in 56 games with the Hurricanes. He didn't suit up for the Predators.

Denis Hamel, acquired Saturday off waivers from Ottawa, also is expected to make his Atlanta debut. He had four goals and three assists in 43 games with the Senators.

Edmonton (27-24-4) starts play in fourth place in the Northwest with 58 points, eight behind division co-leaders Calgary, Vancouver and Minnesota.

The Oilers have alternated wins and losses in their last five games, including a 2-1 victory over Chicago on Friday. Dwayne Roloson carried a shutout into the final minute of the game after Shawn Horcoff notched a power-play goal and an assist.

"We've been talking about trying to have fun again," said Roloson, who finished with 32 saves. "Making the plays instead of worrying about making mistakes. We played with a lot of emotion tonight. That's what we have to do to win hockey games."

The win was Roloson's 22nd of the season - one short of his career high set in 2002-03 with Minnesota. He has two wins with a 3.13 goals-against average in three career starts against the Thrashers, but hasn't faced them since March 9, 2003.

Roloson, though, has won both his starts this season against Southeast Division teams. He stopped 19 shots for the first of his three shutouts this season in a 4-0 win over Washington on Oct. 28. He was almost as good on Jan. 2, losing his shutout bid late in the third period but finishing with 25 saves in a 4-1 win over Florida.

The Oilers will be looking to end their three-game homestand on a winning note. Following this contest, Edmonton goes on a season-high seven-game road trip including stops in Buffalo, Ottawa, Detroit and Minnesota.

The Oilers are 17-11-2 at home, but just 10-13-2 on the road.

2006-2007 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 11 '07 ATL 1 at EDM 5 M. Bergeron