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20 марта 2009 года. 
Fitter Kovalchuk gives Lehtonen fits in drill // The Atlanta Journal - Constitution


Ilya Kovalchuk didn't look like a player with a bad back. He looked more like the man who had scored 15 goals in his past 14 complete games.

Kovalchuk scored so often in Thursday's Thrashers practice that goalie Kari Lehtonen was ready to pronounce him fit for tonight's game against the NHL's top team, Detroit.

"He scored on me probably the most he has this year in any practice," Lehtonen said. "I tried hard, but he was beating me left and right. It's maybe the first time I felt that was a good thing. He's so ready and he practiced so well, I was actually happy about that.

"I usually would have been very mad at myself [for allowing so many goals]."

Kovalchuk has missed three full games since re-injuring his back early in the March 12 game at Edmonton. Defensemen Ron Hainsey, hurt Monday against Washington, and Zach Bogosian, hurt Tuesday at Pittsburgh, also returned to practice Thursday and are expected to play tonight.

Defenseman Boris Valabik said an MRI showed he had dislocated his right shoulder Tuesday. He won't play tonight but said that judging by the way he felt, he hoped to be back soon. Center Jim Slater also remains out.

Kovalchuk said he hurt his back when Colorado's Brett Clark knocked him into the boards on March 10. The injury worsened in the next game, and Kovalchuk didn't return after his second shift. The Thrashers sent him back to Atlanta.

"I couldn't even move," Kovalchuk said. "I was really struggling on the flight home. That's probably the worst two hours in my life."

Things were much better during and after Thursday's practice.

"I feel pretty good," Kovalchuk said. "A little tight, but it's going to go away."

Kovalchuk leads the Thrashers with 36 goals and 78 points. He had 15 goals and 28 points in the 14 games before the one in Edmonton.

Bogosian said he had only a charley horse after Tuesday's collision with Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke.

"It's part of hockey, I guess," Bogosian said of the hit. "I wasn't too happy with it. If he did it intentionally or not, it's still knee on knee. It still hurt. All I have to say is I'm good to go now."

Thrashers coach John Anderson wasn't making a federal case about what he saw on tape.

"I could tell you what I think, but it doesn't really matter. It's what the NHL thinks," Anderson said. "They review all those plays. We haven't seen anything come down."

The NHL issues no comment unless it hands down supplementary discipline, spokesman John Dellapina said. It had not done so by Thursday afternoon.

Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said he had heard nothing from the league.

The Thrashers have won six of their past seven games, including three of their past four without Kovalchuk. (He played two shifts at Edmonton.) Kovalchuk praised the way his teammates came through, from the top line of Slava Kozlov, Todd White and Bryan Little to the fourth line of Eric Boulton, Eric Perrin and Chris Thorburn.

On Thursday, the Thrashers recalled forward Joey Crabb from the AHL and re-assigned forwards Brett Sterling and Spencer Machacek.

Страничка Ильи Ковальчука на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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