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Blue Jackets-Thrashers Preview @NHL

Whatever the result has been for the Atlanta Thrashers over the past month, they've certainly stuck to it for a while.

Coming off a pair of disappointing losses, they're hoping they don't continue that trend.

The streaky Thrashers will look to avoid a three-game skid on Saturday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first time in nearly three years.

A 3-2 overtime loss at Tampa Bay on Oct. 21 was the first of six straight defeats for the Thrashers (7-9-2), as they were outscored 29-12 over that span and earned only one point.

They finally snapped the streak with a 5-3 win over Florida on Nov. 2, which turned out to be the first of five consecutive wins for coach John Anderson's club. Atlanta scored 22 goals during that run, netting five in three of the victories.

The Thrashers are hoping their recent struggles aren't the start of another lengthy slide. In back-to-back games, they've dominated the third period only to give up the tie-breaking goal late.

Atlanta outshot Philadelphia 21-4 in the third on Sunday, but lost 4-3 on Joffrey Lupul's goal with 6:17 left. The Thrashers held a 12-7 edge on shots in the final 20 minutes Thursday, only to give up Petr Sykora's goal with 2:40 to go and lose 3-2.

"We have to keep playing like we played in that period," Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec said.

Still, the Thrashers were outshot by a combined 52-22 in the first and second periods of their last two games.

They'll try to avoid another poor start against Columbus (8-8-3), which has had its own problems lately. The Blue Jackets have also lost two straight, falling 3-2 in a shootout at Minnesota on Saturday before Tuesday's 7-2 home drubbing against Edmonton.

Against the Oilers, Rick Nash scored to make it a two-goal game midway through the third period, but the Blue Jackets allowed three goals in the next 5:10.

They were blown out despite outshooting Edmonton 39-19, as goalie Pascal Leclaire gave up all seven goals while making 12 saves. Leclaire, in his second game after missing seven with an ankle injury, had made 37 saves in a 6-1 win at Buffalo in his previous start.

"It's done. It's over. 7-2 or 2-1 loss, it's still zero points in the standings for us," Leclaire said. "We don't play for personal stats here; we play for the team winning. You got to forget about it and move on. It's too long of a season to worry about this one."

Rookie Steve Mason has also seen time in net for Columbus. He's 3-1-1 with a 2.72 goals-against average in his first five career starts.

It's also unclear who Atlanta's goalie will be. Starter Kari Lehtonen has missed the last eight games with a back problem, with Pavelec and Johan Hedberg sharing the duties over that span.

The teams have only faced off twice in the last five years, with Columbus earning a 2-0 home win last Dec. 26 after losing at Atlanta 5-2 on Dec. 9, 2005.

The Blue Jackets have lost three straight at Philips Arena since winning their first visit there during the 2000-01 season.

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