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Atlanta starts homestand needing win vs. Florida

by Dave Lozo
PANTHERS (25-28-7) at THRASHERS (25-26-10)
TV -- FS-Florida (HD), FS-South (HD)
Last 10 --
Florida 3-6-1; Atlanta 2-7-1
Season series --
Fifth of six meetings this season between these Southeast Division rivals. The Thrashers have taken three of four, including a 3-2 shootout win in their most recent meeting on Jan. 17.
Big story --
It's desperate times for both teams. The Thrashers have just six wins in their last 26 games and have fallen five points out of eighth place. The Panthers are eight points out of the playoffs and looking more and more like they will be sellers when Monday's trade deadline arrives.
Team Scope:
Panthers --
The struggling Panthers may have hit rock bottom in Ottawa on Wednesday, losing to the Senators 5-1. The Sens have occupied the cellar of the Eastern Conference for quite some time and their win against the Panthers snapped a 10-game home losing streak.

"We just didn't have enough in the offensive end tonight," Chris Higgins said, referring to his team's 24 shots on goal. "We let them skate out of the zone a little bit too easy and didn't put enough pressure on their goalie. It seems like we had one shot and they were out of the zone."

Thrashers -- Their 2-8-3 tailspin has made this five-game homestand crucial. The Thrashers played well against the Sabres but still lost 4-1 on Tuesday.

Coach Craig Ramsay was blunt when discussing his team following the game.

"Forty shots on the road, and we found a way to lose," Ramsay said. "We have five home games coming up. We need five wins."
Who's hot -- Florida's Mike Santorelli has 2 goals in his last three games. … Atlanta's Andrew Ladd has 6 goals in six games and a four-game goal-scoring streak.
Injury report -- Panthers forward Jack Skille hurt his ankle and likely won't play against Atlanta. … The Thrashers are relatively healthy and lack any new, significant injuries.

Stat pack --
Florida has a power-play goal in seven of its past nine games. … Atlanta has scored at least one power-play goal in four of its past six games.
Puck drop --
"You need big efforts from everyone in the room. It seems like we have some guys going and some guys not. This time of year we have to have everyone on the same page." -- Thrashers captain Andrew Ladd, to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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