Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils Can Ruin Atlanta's Playoff Hopes

Emotions will follow Ilya Kovalchuk into Atlanta this evening when the Russian sees his former club as an opponent for the first time ever. The first overall selection in the 2001 Entry Draft was their superstar for nearly eight seasons and now, two months after joining the New Jersey Devils, can be a factor in the Thrashers' demise.

Atlanta's special number is three because that's how many points they are behind the eighth-ranked Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference, and the number of games left for them. Washington and Pittsburgh will be the final straws for the Thrashers, so to say a win is needed today is an understatement.

Philips Arena hasn't received the kind of attendance that boosts a team's spirits, and they can use it now more than ever. With his goal-scoring acumen, Kovalchuk, once known as Atlanta's greatest hope for a bright future, may decide their fate. Only this time, it wouldn't be for their benefit.

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