NHL Hockey: Atlanta Thrashers at Vancouver Canucks - Canucks Favored
86% of Bets Placed on Vancouver -136 | Matchup | Goalies
After opening their season-high six-game road trip with a decisive victory, the Atlanta Thrashers look to win four straight road games for the first time in four years when they face the Vancouver Canucks for the first time in nearly three years on Saturday.
The Thrashers (30-18-9) lead the Southeast Division by six points and are in third place in the Eastern Conference, but entered their six-game trip in a bit of a slump.
Atlanta had lost three straight and four of five before defeating Colorado 6-3 on Thursday. The Thrashers took a 5-1 lead into the final period and cruised from there.
"The game was over by the third period,'' said left wing Slava Kozlov, who scored twice and added two assists. "We played solid for two periods. It might have looked like it was a close game, but in fact we dominated them.''
Kozlov had two assists in Atlanta's last game against the Canucks (30-21-4), a 4-1 victory on Feb. 13, 2004, at General Motors Place.
Vancouver finished third in the West that season before losing to Calgary in the first round of the playoffs, while the Thrashers finished 10th in the East.
Atlanta is still searching for the first playoff berth in its seven-year history, but appears highly likely to achieve that goal as it is currently enjoying its best season.
Helped by All-Star right wing Marian Hossa's 33 goals and 71 points, the Thrashers are 21 points shy of last years single-season record of 90 with 25 games still to play.
Along with Kozlov, Hossa had two goals and two assists against Colorado, giving him seven goals and six assists in his last 10 games.
Kari Lehtonen, who stopped a season-high 45 shots on Thursday, has never faced the Canucks in his three-year career.
Lehtonen has been in net to win each of Atlanta's last three road games, posting a 2.27 goals-against average in those contests. The Thrashers have not won four in a row away from home since Jan. 13-Feb. 7, 2003.
The Thrashers - 16-9-4 on the road in 2006-07 - are also one victory away from matching the team record for road wins in a season, set last year when they went 17-20-4 away from Philips Arena.
Vancouver, which trails the first-place Calgary Flames by one point in the Northwest Division, lost 3-0 to Chicago at home on Wednesday. The Canucks have dropped four of their last six at GM Place following an eight-game home winning streak.
The shutout loss was the fifth of the season for Vancouver, and came one day after Daniel Sedin recorded the first five-point game of his career in a 5-2 victory over Edmonton.
"It's very unfortunate, very disappointing,'' Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "We all expected better from ourselves tonight, we expected better execution, and we just didn't get it from the whole group tonight.''
Daniel Sedin leads Vancouver with 23 goals and 55 points, and scored the Canucks' lone goal in their last game against the Thrashers.
by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us
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