The Atlanta Thrashers' latest loss not only ended one of the franchise's longest winning streaks, it knocked them out of first place in the Southeast Division.
The Thrashers look to regroup and continue their push for their first division crown when they host the slumping Washington Capitals on Monday.
Atlanta (36-24-10) lost 3-2 to Florida on Saturday, snapping a franchise high-tying five-game win streak. Later that night, Tampa Bay defeated Calgary 3-2 to jump past the Thrashers to the top of the division.
Atlanta has never finished higher than second place in the club's seven-year history, and is still seeking its first playoff berth. The Thrashers have a good chance of ending their playoff drought this season, as they have a seven-point lead over Carolina and Toronto, which are tied for the final playoff spot, with 12 games remaining.
With the Lightning off Monday, Atlanta will try to move back into first place when it faces the Capitals (24-33-12), owners of the fourth-worst record in the league.
The Thrashers are 4-0-2 against Washington this season, although they lost the last meeting 3-2 in overtime Jan. 6. Atlanta has recorded a point in all but one game against the Capitals since the start of last season, going 9-1-4 in that span.
Thrashers right wing Marian Hossa scored his team-leading 40th goal Saturday to give him points in 10 straight games, setting a team record. He has seven goals and 10 assists during the run.
"It feels good but it's a personal stat that doesn't mean anything if the team doesn't win," said Hossa, who's three games shy of tying his career-high point streak, set from Nov. 6-30, 2002 when he played for Ottawa.
The four-time All-Star has three goals and two assists against Washington this season, but hasn't recorded a point in the last three meetings.
The Thrashers return to Philips Arena, where they've won a season-high four straight following a season-worst five-game home losing skid.
Washington, meanwhile, lost 5-2 to the New York Islanders on Saturday for their season-high seventh consecutive loss. The Caps have dropped two straight road games and 15 of 17 away from the Verizon Center since Dec. 26.
After Washington lost to Toronto and Carolina by 3-0 scores in its previous two games, Alex Ovechkin and Donald Brashear scored 1:49 apart in the third period Saturday as the franchise avoided its first three-game shutout streak. The Caps hadn't scored in 176 minutes, 14 seconds.
"We're trying to stay positive and keep our heads up," center Brian Sutherby said. "We weren't scoring the last few games, but it wasn't like we weren't getting chances. It's nice to get a few."
The Capitals have been outscored 31-15 during their skid, and are 1-8-4 since Feb. 10.
Ovechkin ended a three-game pointless stretch. Although he has five goals and four assists in his last 12 games, he has gone without a point in seven of those contests.
Ovechkin has had major success against the Thrashers, however, posting career bests of 10 goals and 14 assists in 14 games - his highest totals against any opponent. He has five goals and five assists against them in 2006-07, including his only hat trick of the season in Washington's 3-2 overtime win Dec. 15 at Philips Arena.
The teams conclude their season series in Atlanta on April 4.
|Apr 04 '07||WSH 3 at ATL 2||A. Ovechkin|
|Mar 12 '07||WSH 2 at ATL 4||K. Tkachuk|
|Jan 06 '07||ATL 2 at WSH 3 - OT||A. Semin|
|Dec 15 '06||WSH 3 at ATL 2 - OT||A. Ovechkin|
|Nov 22 '06||ATL 4 at WSH 2||G. Metropolit|
|Nov 03 '06||ATL 4 at WSH 3||S. Rucchin|
|Oct 19 '06||WSH 3 at ATL 4 - SO||V. Kozlov|
|Oct 14 '06||ATL 4 at WSH 3 - OT||I. Kovalchuk|