Ducks Battle Thrashers in Rare Visit to Atlanta
DUCKS (24-21-7) at THRASHERS (22-21-8)
Anaheim 8-2-0; Atlanta 4-4-2
This is the only meeting between the teams this season. On Feb. 15, 2009, the Thrashers scored a wild 8-4 road win on the strength of four second-period goals. Ilya Kovalchuk recorded a hat trick in a span of 6:51 in the second period. Atlanta battered goalie Jean-Sebastian Giguere with 25 shots and knocked him out of the game at 12:20 of the second period after scoring five goals. Backup Jonas Hiller
didn't provide much relief. The Thrashers scored 1:17 after Hiller came in and added two more to round out the scoring, the final goal from defenseman Niclas Havelid on a shorthanded empty-netter.
Both teams sit less than five points out of a playoff spot in their respective conference.
"We're playing desperate hockey," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "When you play desperate, the will to win games is critical because every team is so evenly matched.
"Everybody has got banged-up lineups. Everybody's playing shorthanded. Everybody has the condensed schedule because of the Olympics. Everybody's playing lots of hockey. It's about will right now."
This is the third game of a of a season-high six-game road trip that included a 4-3 shootout victory against St. Louis on Saturday.
Anaheim overcame a 3-0 deficit in the third period, and defenseman James Wisniewski
scored the game-deciding shootout goal in the seventh round, giving the Ducks their eighth victory in 10 games. It was the first career shootout attempt for Wisniewski.
"He's a confident guy, and those situations don't rattle him," Carlyle said. "He made a hell of a move."
The Ducks received third-period goals from Scott Niedermayer and two from Bobby Ryan
, whose last score came with 30 seconds remaining.
Atlanta is returning to Philips Arena for the first time since Jan. 21. The Thrashers suffered a 2-1 shootout loss at Tampa Bay last Saturday.
Nik Antropov scored in the first period for the Thrashers, who have lost 13 of 15 on the road. Johan Hedberg stopped 24 shots.
"Moose (Hedberg) played unbelievable, and we had a lot of point-blank chances on (Antero) Niittymaki," center Rich Peverley said.
"We had control of the game pretty much the whole way," coach John Anderson said. "The goal they scored was a 4-on-3. That was a phantom call. He ran into our guy and we got a penalty."
Veteran left wing Slava Kozlov was a healthy scratch, ending his franchise record of 251 consecutive games. He has not scored in 16 games.
Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen, who has yet to play this season because of back surgery, started a conditioning assignment with AHL Chicago.
For the Ducks, Ryan has four goals and three assists in seven games, Ryan Getzlaf
has a goal and three assists in four games, Corey Perry
has three goals and five assists in 10 games, and Niedermayer has a goal and three assists in four games. … For the Thrashers, Peverley has three goals and an assist in five games.
For the Ducks, Joffrey Lupul
(back) and Teemu Selanne
(broken jaw) are on injured reserve, and Saku Koivu
(knee) is day-to-day. … For the Thrashers, Lehtonen (back) and Christoph Schubert (lower-body) are on injured reserve, and Mark Popovic (foot) is day-to-day.
Over the last five seasons (including 2009-10), the Ducks have gone 102-55-18 in the second half of the season. … Ryan leads the league in goals this season among U.S.-born players with 24. … Since his recall from Manitoba (AHL) on Dec. 4, Ducks right wing Dan Sexton
leads all NHL rookies in goals and is tied for first with Colorado's Matt Duchene in scoring (17 points). Sexton also leads NHL freshman in road scoring since Dec. 4, collecting 3-7-10 in 16 games. … Kovalchuk is tied for second in the NHL with 10 power-play goals and is fourth in overall goals (30). … Since 2001-02, Kovalchuk leads the NHL in goals with 325.
"I think it was like a playoff game. Those are two points that we definitely needed to try and lessen the gap." -- said Ryan on Saturday's come-from-behind win.