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ATLANTA THRASHERS (26-35-6) at
EDMONTON OILERS (32-27-7)
Start Time: 7:38 p.m. MDT
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Thrashers Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison Oilers Twitter Lineup Updates:
by Marc Ciampa and Jessica McPhee | edmontonoilers.com
The Edmonton Oilers return home to begin a three-game homestand tonight at Rexall Place against the Atlanta Thrashers.
Although Atlanta has won six of their last ten, they’re 19 points away from a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. After a disappointing first few months of the season the team has struggled to make upward movement in the Conference.
The Thrashers come into tonight's game having won each of their last three outings. They have defeated Montreal, Calgary and Colorado by a combined score of 10-2 and are playing their best hockey of the season.
Edmonton is starting to come out of its recent slump and has picked up at least a point in six of its last eight games (3-2-3). The battle for the final two playoff spots is a tight one in the Western Conference with five teams separated by a single point. Edmonton and Nashville are currently holding court at 71 points with Minnesota, Dallas and Anaheim each at 70 points on the outside looking in.
This is the only meeting of the season between the Oilers and Thrashers.
Just The Facts...
Bob Stauffer & Mark Spector preview tonight's game Pre-game comments from Sheldon Souray, Ethan Moreau, Dwayne Roloson & Craig MacTavish Pre-Game Audio... Sheldon Souray Ethan Moreau Dwayne Roloson Craig MacTavish Wednesday's Video:
Fan Appreciation Night Contest...
Online Form - Fan Appreciation Night Contest
Contest Rules: Web | Sportsnet | Radio
Theo Peckham recalled from Springfield - General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have recalled defenceman Theo Peckham from the Springfield Falcons. This is the fifth time this season that the 6’2”, 223 pound defenceman has been recalled. ...more
The Other Side
Bryan Little answers fan questions - In the first installment of "Ask A Thrasher" fans submitted questions for second-year forward Bryan Little. He took time to answer some of his favorites from the list before heading out on the road with the team. Here is what he said. ...more Bryan Little on fire - Sophomore sensation Bryan Little has 7 goals and 4 assists in his last 10 games and has broken out in a big way in 2008-09, earning himself a YoungStars berth and a whole lot of respect. Check out this video to see some of his greatest plays. ...more Video: At Home with Johan Hedberg - Johan Hedberg invited atlantathrashers.com into his family's home so fans could get a glimpse of how an NHL goalie lives. Welcome to Moose's house. Video | ...more
From the Fans
Click here to read today's gameday thread on the Oilers message board.
Odds and Ends
5 Questions with Ladislav Smid - Arena snacks, sunny cities, and cram-session school subjects are among the five topics Ladislav Smid addressed in our most-recent Off The Ice profile. Follow the link to check out his answers and more Off The Ice features. ...more Horcoff with Jason Bay of the Red Sox - In this edition of The Link, we follow Shawn Horcoff to the Rogers Centre where he caught up with childhood friend Jason Bay of the Boston Red Sox at the World Baseball Classic. We also attend WIN House for a special EOCF donation. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
The Edmonton Oilers probably need to earn several points during their three-game homestand to maintain their tenuous grip on a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Starting it with a victory over the Atlanta Thrashers doesn't look as easy as it once did.
The Thrashers will look to win a fourth straight game for the first time since November on Thursday night in Edmonton, where they haven't won in more than eight years.
The Oilers (32-27-7) are tied for seventh place in the West after a 4-3 overtime loss at Montreal on Tuesday night, but they're just four points ahead of 13th-place Los Angeles atop a logjam for the conference's final two playoff spots.
Edmonton led the Canadiens 3-2 with five minutes to play in the third period, but Saku Koivu scored twice, including 1:40 into overtime, to deal the Oilers their seventh loss in 10 games.
"It was disappointing, but a lot of good positive signs in terms of the way we played, and now we've got to get some momentum back home," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said.
The Oilers outshot Montreal 17-2 in the second period, when they scored all three of their goals. Defenseman Sheldon Souray had a goal and an assist but left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return, leaving his status unclear for Thursday's game.
Dwayne Roloson made his 22nd consecutive start for Edmonton, and figures to continue as the team's workhorse goaltender down the stretch. In six career appearances against Atlanta, he is 4-0-0 with a tie and a 2.36 goals-against average.
With Colorado and St. Louis also set to visit Edmonton on this homestand, the Oilers will face three teams among the bottom five in their respective conference standings. They've won three straight against the Thrashers, whose last victory at Rexall Place was a 3-1 win on Oct. 25, 2000.
Atlanta (26-35-6) returns to the NHL's northernmost venue with a hot goaltender. Kari Lehtonen has tripled his season shutout total in his last three starts, blanking a pair of opponents and winning all three games as the Thrashers matched their second-longest win streak of the season.
Lehtonen has stopped 87 of 89 shots during that stretch, lowering his GAA to 3.00.
"I can't explain it," Lehtonen said after making 35 saves in a 3-0 win at Colorado on Tuesday night. "It isn't anything technical. I just feel comfortable, and the team in front of me has been comfortable with me."
The Thrashers haven't won four in a row since a five-game streak in early November, but they'll have a good chance if their strong defensive play continues.
Offense has rarely been a problem this season, but Atlanta ranks 29th in the league with a 3.37 team GAA. The Thrashers have held the opposition scoreless in 15 power-play chances over the last four games.
"When you're getting great goaltending, it makes the rest of the game a little easier," coach John Anderson said.
Against the Avalanche, rookie defenseman Zach Bogosian scored the game-winning goal and leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk added two assists.
Kovalchuk has ramped up his production lately, totaling 15 goals and 13 assists in his last 14 games - easily the most points in the NHL over that span.
|Mar 12 '09||ATL 4 at EDM 3 - OT||M. Reasoner|