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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Atlanta Thrashers

Game Time: 7:00pm/ET
From: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Penguins Record: 16-10-4 (7th in Eastern Conference)
Thrashers Record: 10-16-4 (13th in Eastern Conference)
Last Meeting: November 20th, 2008 @ Atlanta (3-2 Pens)
[Our Recap]

Pascal Dupuis - Sidney Crosby - Miroslav Satan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Evgeni Malkin - Petr Sykora
Tim Wallace - Jordan Staal - Matt Cooke
Ryan Stone - Jeff Taffe - Eric Godard

Brooks Opik - Rob Scuderi
Kris Letang - Mark Eaton
Phillipe Boucher - Alex Goligoski

Marc-Andre Fleury (8-3-2 / 2.86GAA / .907 SV%)

Ryan Whitney (left foot surgery) - on injured reserve
Sergei Gonchar (left shoulder surgery) - on injured reserve
Tyler Kennedy (sprained knee) - on injured reserve
Hal Gill (right shoulder) - on injured reserve
Mike Zigomanis (upper body) - day-to-day, will miss tonight's game
Maxime Talbot (foot) - day-to-day, will miss tonight's game

Slava Kozlov - Todd White - Bryan Little
Ilya Kovalchuk - Marty Reasoner - Chris Thorburn
Eric Perrin - Jason Williams - Colby Armstrong
Eric Boulton - Jim Slater - Joey Crabb

Tobias Enstrom - Nathan Oystrick
Ron Hainsey - Garnet Exelby
Niclas Havelid - Boris Valabik

Ondrej Pavelec (3-5-0 / 3.16AA / .897 SV%)

Mike Hoffman (broken right hand) - on injured reserve
Zach Bogosian (broken left leg) - on injured reserve, out indefinitely
Kari Lehtonen (tightness in back) - on injured reserve
Erik Christensen (partially separated right shoulder) - questionable for tonight
Mathieu Schneider (shoulder) - questionable for tonight

GOALS: Crosby (13)
ASSISTS: Malkin (37)
POINTS: Malkin (49)
+/-: Malkin (+17)

GOALS: Kozlov (14)
ASSISTS: Kovalchuk (20)
POINTS: Kovalchuk (31)
+/-: Reasoner (+7)

This is as close to a "must win" game as you can get playing a non-playoff team in December.

The Penguins have been on a slide recently, falling to fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. After an impressive November, the Penguins have only won two games in December, against the Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Islanders. They've lost four out of their last five as injury troubles have hit the team hard.

The good news is that Marc-Andre Fleury will make his return to the Penguins net tonight. Fleury hasn't played in over a month, so it will be good to see him back between the pipes. Whether or not this will boost the Penguins remains to be seen.

Ryan Stone and Jeff Taffe have been called up from WBS to fill in for Maxime Talbot and Jeff Taffe. Tim Wallace continues to fill Tyler Kennedy's role on the third line.

The Thrashers have lost three out of their last four and they have also only been victorious twice in December. Former Penguin Colby Armstrong scored two goals in 31 seconds on Tuesday night as the Thrashers defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1.

The Penguins have had a four day break after playing four games in six days last week. Michel Therrien was not happy with the team's performance on Saturday in Philadelphia.

"We were not good in every department," he said. "The energy was not there and a lot of times when the energy is not there, the concentration is not there."

The Penguins hope to bounce back tonight.

Prediction: 4-3 Penguins

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