ATLANTA -- Dany Heatley's quick return to the ice couldn't come at a better time for the Atlanta Thrashers.
The star right wing plans to play tonight for the first time since surviving a car wreck in September that killed teammate Dan Snyder and left Heatley with serious injuries. His return against St. Louis will cap a recovery from two torn knee ligaments and a broken jaw.
"It's been a long time. I'm anxious to get out there," Heatley said.
After leading the Southeast Division for much of the season, Atlanta has dropped to second place, eight points behind Tampa Bay. The Thrashers are tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference.
The crash remains under investigation and a final decision on charges has not been made, Erik Friedly, a spokesman for the district attorney, said yesterday.