The St. Louis Blues have plenty to be excited about when they finally take the ice on their home continent.
Looking to carry over their European success in North America, the Blues try to remain perfect when they host the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday night.
Fresh off its playoff appearance since 2003-04, St. Louis (2-0-0) won both games against defending Western Conference-champion Detroit last week in Stockholm, Sweden.
For the second straight contest, the Blues rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Red Wings 5-3 on Saturday in the finale of the back-to-back contests between the Central Division foes.
Paul Kariya(notes) also had two goals and two assists, and Jay McClement(notes) added one with three assists in the two games for the Blues, who scored four of their nine goals off nine power-play chances.
“Hopefully we can keep building,” said Tkachuk, who has five goals and four assists in eight games against Atlanta.
On a night when they’ll unveil a statue of Hall of Fame defenseman and current vice president of hockey operations Al MacInnis outside the Scottrade Center, the Blues look to open with three straight victories for the first time since 1993-94. St. Louis went 23-13-5 last season at home, where it’s won five straight regular-season contests.
Mason, who made 31 saves in Friday’s 4-3 win over Detroit, stopped 30 shots during his only appearance against the Thrashers, a 4-2 victory Nov. 30.
While St. Louis is 3-0-1 all-time against Atlanta at home, the Thrashers should have some confidence after opening a five-game road trip by beating Tampa Bay 6-3 on Saturday.
Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) and Rich Peverley(notes) each had two goals with an assist for the Thrashers, who went 17-20-4 on the road last season and missed the playoffs for the second straight time after the franchise’s first postseason appearance in 2006-07.
“Last year we won the first game, too,” said Kovalchuk, who’s the only player in the NHL to score 40 or more goals in each of the past five seasons, and has four in seven games versus the Blues.
With veteran Kari Lehtonen(notes) still recovering from back surgery, career backup Ondrej Pavelec(notes) looks to build off a solid opening effort where he made 36 saves to improve to 7-10-0 with a 3.40 goals-against average.
“He kept us in the game early on,” Thrashers coach John Anderson said of Pavelec, who made a career-high 43 saves in the loss to the Blues last season.
“He played wonderful,” Anderson said. “He played very well. He will get more ice time.”