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Thrashers in first in mediocre division

ATLANTA - Don't look now, but the Atlanta Thrashers are in first place.

After their 0-6-0 start, that is quite a turnaround - even if it has been achieved in the NHL's mediocre Southeast Division.

The Thrashers (23-22-2) and Carolina (22-22-4) each have 48 points, but Atlanta has the tie-breaker with one more victory. The Thrashers have also played one less game.

Coming off a home victory against streaking Pittsburgh and big win on the road against powerful Detroit, the Thrashers host Montreal tonight at Philips Arena.

The Thrashers' only other home game before the All-Star break is Sunday against Edmonton. Atlanta plays at Buffalo on Friday and goes to New York for two games against the Rangers next week.

The All-Star Game is Jan. 27 at Philips Arena and the Thrashers will be represented by Ilya Kovalchuk, the NHL's leading goal scorer, and Marian Hossa.

Hossa had a natural hat trick - three consecutive goals - in Wednesday night's 5-1 victory at Detroit. He has 19 goals to Kovalchuk's 37.

The Thrashes were wildly out-shot by the Red Wings, but goalie Kari Lehtonen made 46 saves.

Former Gwinnett Gladiator Kevin Doell recorded his first NHL point, assisting on a goal by Eric Perrin in the second period.

The Thrashers were 3-for-4 on the power play and have scored five times in their last seven opportunities with a manpower advantage.

SideBar: Canadiens at Thrashers

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Philips Arena

TV/radio: SportSouth/680-AM