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Thrashers At Devils: A Fight To The Finish For These Two Teams

The Devils and Thrashers are, unfortunately, doomed to be mentioned together for the next fifteen years, for obvious reasons. And, that obvious reason, has been on a roll. Ilya Kovalchuk, after starting the season absolutely dreadfully - along with the rest of his team - has been playing excellent hockey since the Devils brought back coach Jacques Lemaire. He had a point in seventeen straight games since the All-Star break until Thursday evening's loss to the Ottawa Senators. Kovy's streak wasn't the only one broken. Goaltender Martin Brodeur was riding a seven game win streak into that game, and left empty handed.

Just scoring two goals isn't anything new for the Devil's opposition. In the past 14 games, neither Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg have allowed more than two goals. Considering the fact that the Thrashers are still having trouble scoring (except for Andrew Ladd, who has eight goals and two assists in his past ten games) and an even bigger issue maintaining a lead, there's some cause for concern tonight. Adding to this is the fact that defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is a game time decision, and you're looking at a desperate team missing one of their two most desperate players.

New Jersey's goals per game might be a minuscule 2.08 average, but with solid goaltending you can still score two goals and win. The trick is that Atlanta has to find a way to score more than two, hold a lead, and win in regulation. It's been a tougher task than one would think for the Thrashers. They blew a 3-1 lead in Edmonton to lose 5-3, blew a 3-1 lead to the Florida Panthers before coming back to win it in overtime, and then blew a two goal lead before getting to overtime and defeating the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

If the Thrashers has the drive to win tonight, and the focus to hold a lead, then there might be something to hold out hope for.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.