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While a variety of problems have contributed to the New York Islanders' winless December, staying healthy has been a struggle all season.
The injury-plagued Islanders could be without three more players as they try to end a nine-game slide Tuesday night when they host the Atlanta Thrashers.
New York (10-20-3) enters its final contest before the holiday break tied with Tampa Bay for the fewest points in the league. The team has collected just three points in its last 12 games (1-10-1), and has yet to record a win in nine December contests (0-8-1).
The Islanders have been outscored 40-16 during the slide - their longest since they dropped 10 in a row from Dec. 22, 1997-Jan. 10, 1998.
"Nobody's going to get us out of this slump but ourselves," said Joey MacDonald, who stopped 27 shots in Saturday's 1-0 loss at Nashville. "We are short on bodies, but we just have to keep battling and working hard."
Halting the skid won't be easy considering New York's depleted lineup. With six players already on injured reserve, the Islanders lost forwards Trent Hunter and Doug Weight to groin strains and defenseman Andy Sutton to a broken foot.
Hunter is tied for the team lead with 11 goals, while Weight tops the Islanders with 29 points and is two shy of 1,000 for his career. Both are day-to-day for New York, which has been held to one goal in its last two games and is averaging a dismal 2.39 per game in 2008-09.
Sutton could miss between six to eight weeks for an Islanders team that ranks among the worst in the league with 120 goals allowed. The Thrashers', meanwhile, have conceded an NHL-high 123 goals.
Atlanta (11-18-4) has lost 13 of 17 games (4-11-2) since its season-high five-game winning streak from Nov. 2-14. It has alternated wins and losses in the last four games, following Saturday's 4-3 overtime victory over visiting Tampa Bay with a 6-2 home loss to Toronto on Monday.
It was the third time in six games that Atlanta surrendered at least six goals.
"I don't think we stuck to the game plan as well as we should have, or would have liked to going in, but our effort (Monday night) I don't think was acceptable," said Thrashers forward Chris Thorburn. "No one should be happy."
The Thrashers have won both meetings against the Islanders this season, including a 5-1 victory at Nassau Coliseum on Dec. 6.
MacDonald allowed five goals on 17 shots in that loss, and has surrendered 12 goals on 84 shots in losing the three starts he's made against Atlanta. He has a 4.09 goals-against average during a personal eight-game losing streak.
The Thrashers' Kari Lehtonen, who made 32 saves Monday in his second game since missing seven weeks with an injured back, is 4-3-1 with a 3.41 GAA in eight career games versus the Islanders.
Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk is one point shy of 500 and could reach that mark in his 500th NHL game on Tuesday. He has 10 goals and 18 points in 26 career contests against the Islanders.