With each team playing one night after a game in Florida, the Thrashers look to take over the Southeast Division lead on Thursday night.
Atlanta (17-11-4) averaged 3.7 goals per game during a recent six-game winning streak at Philips Arena - one short of the longest home win streak in franchise history. The run ended with a 4-2 loss to Colorado on Friday.
Home ice was no advantage in this series last season as the visiting team won all six meetings. The Thrashers got outscored 13-3 in their three home games versus the Hurricanes (13-12-4), who have won 11 of their last 14 in Atlanta.
Playing their fourth game in five nights, the Thrashers are returning home for two games following a 2-0-1 trip that ended with Wednesday’s 2-1 shootout loss to Tampa Bay.
Atlanta had won 10 of its previous 12.
“We’re pleased we only gave up a goal, but our goal is to score,” coach Craig Ramsay said after his team went 0 for 5 on the power play. “We had some opportunities and we didn’t cash them in. When you’re presented with some chances to score, you’ve got to get it done.”
The Thrashers, tied with the Lightning for second in the division, can pass idle Washington for the Southeast lead if they can overcome the Hurricanes at home.
Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice will likely give the start to backup Justin Peters(notes) on Thursday after Ward was pulled 1:42 into Wednesday’s 4-3 victory at Florida after giving up two goals on five shots.
“It’s not his fault, but I hold him to a higher standard,” Maurice said of Ward.
Peters was impressive in relief, turning away 21 of 22 shots to earn his first victory since March 20 at Pittsburgh.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the start we were looking for but it showed a lot of resilience, a lot of character,” Peters said after Tuomu Ruutu’s two third-period goals helped the Hurricanes rally from a 3-0 first-period deficit. “You never know what to expect. I’m sitting there, and next thing you know you’re in the net. Sometimes when you don’t see it coming it’s the best way.”
Peters has never faced Atlanta.