Leading scorers:Ilya Kovalchuk (36G, 42A), Todd White (19G, 43A)
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If this past weekend's 4-3 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators proves anything it's this: don't dismiss the basement dwellers. Atlanta's 29-35-6 record would indicate they're likely a push over, but the recent streak of a franchise-high six consecutive wins is nothing to take lightly.
In last night's game against the Washington Capitals, Thrashers goaltender Kari Lehtonen played, in Mike Lange terms, "like a man possessed," en route to a career-high 49 save performance. The Caps didn't get much traffic in front of the net, but it didn't matter. Lehtonen was shifting side to side with ease and at times coming way out of the crease to challenge legitment drives towards the net by Alex Ovechkin. The potential 5-0 shutout was spoiled with 1:15 remaining in the game when Washington's Eric Fehr picked up his 11th of the year to bring the final to 5-1.
Mind you, this was all without Ilya Kovalchuk in the lineup.
No word on Kovie's place in tonight's roster against the Pens, but he was reevaluated yesterday before the Caps game and consequently sat out with the obligatory upper body injury. We'll keep you posted as the day progresses.
Although overworked, don't be surprised if Atlanta goes with Lehtonen again between the pipes. Obviously the Thrashers have nothing left to lose in terms of a playoff position, but the franchise record is still on the line and Lehtonen is finally playing like the goaltender fans have wanted him to be. He's come out on top in five straight starts, shutting out the Avalanche and Canadiens in the process. Lil John must have a positive influence on his playing abilities.