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After a lengthy, difficult stretch on the road, the Atlanta Thrashers return to Phillips Arena on Tuesday to face the Los Angeles Kings.
Marian Hossa might be player most looking forward to the homecoming.
Hossa leads the NHL in goals scored at home with 17 and leads the Thrashers (25-14-8) in goals (26) and points (58). Although he converted in the shootout round of a 4-3 win over Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, Hossa failed to register a point on the team's four-game road trip, with Atlanta finished 1-2-1.
Saturday's win ended the team's five-game winless streak.
Slava Kozlov had the Thrashers' other shootout goal against the Hurricanes, while Atlanta goalie Kari Lehtonen stopped both of Carolina's attempts and finished with 24 saves.
The Thrashers have played eight of their last nine on the road and now return to Phillips Arena for eight of the next nine. Atlanta is 11-5-4 at home, and the team hopes to use the time at home to put some more distance between itself and Carolina, which trails by five points in the Southeast.
"We know where they're at," Atlanta forward Scott Mellanby said. "We can feel them."
The Thrashers, however, haven't had much success at any place against the Kings (16-25-6). Atlanta is just 2-7-0 against the Kings since entering the league in 1999, and has lost three of four to them at home.
The Thrashers have been outscored 42-22 by Los Angeles in the nine meetings, but Los Angeles has been struggling defensively, allowing 85 goals on the road this season - third most in the NHL.
Atlanta has allowed just 54 goals at home, thanks to Lehtonen, who is 10-4-3 with a 2.34 goals-against average and has a three-game winning streak at Phillips Arena. The Finnish goaltender has never faced the Kings.
Atlanta also has the advantage of facing a struggling Kings team that is winless in its last four games after a 3-1 loss to Dallas on Monday. Michael Cammalleri scored the team's lone goal during a second-period power play, but the Kings were outshot 15-7 during the third period as Dallas had six power plays.
"I thought the first two periods we played well, but we got outworked in the third period," Kings defenseman Aaron Miller said. "We were really outplayed in the third. If we don't outwork teams, we're not going to win."
Rookie goaltender Barry Brust made his ninth appearance - sixth start - and recorded 22 saves. The Kings are missing the team's top two goaltenders - Mathieu Garon (finger) and Dan Cloutier (hip) - with injuries, leaving Brust and Japanese native Yutaka Fukufuji as the team's remaining options.
Fukufuji became the first Japanese-born player to play in an NHL game Saturday when he came on in relief for Brust, stopping four of five shots.
Los Angeles has been outscored 16-9 during its winless streak, and the team is 2-for-16 (12.5 percent) converting power-play opportunities during that span.
Atlanta had allowed a power-play goal in eight consecutive games before killing off all five of their short-handed situations against Carolina. Opponents were 13-for-47 (27.7 percent) during that eight-game stretch.
|Jan 16 '07||LAK 2 at ATL 6||J. Slater|