The Carolina Hurricanes' first month as defending Stanley Cup champions didn't start off so well.
But following their best offensive performance to date - and facing a team they've already beaten twice - things appear to be heading in the right direction.
The Hurricanes look to open November with a victory when they visit the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on Wednesday in the third meeting between the Southeast Division rivals this season.
Carolina (5-5-2) became the first team in NHL history to start its title defense with four straight losses before beating Atlanta 4-3 on Oct. 13. That victory sparked a three-game winning streak, but the Hurricanes then dropped back-to-back contests.
Carolina again got back on track with a 5-4 overtime win over the Thrashers on Wednesday before splitting a home-and-home series with Tampa Bay.
"I thought we'd been working pretty hard for most of the month," said Hurricanes right wing Scott Walker, who scored twice in the 6-4 win over the Lightning on Saturday. "Yeah, we haven't been having all the success and we haven't been winning all the time.
"But sometimes you need something positive to happen to you to get you out of that funk and feel like everybody's not against you."
Carolina set a franchise-record with goals by Eric Staal, Kevyn Adams and Erik Cole 43 seconds apart to spark the team's best offensive output this season.
"Anytime you can pounce on a team and get a couple by every line, it makes a big difference," said Staal, who finished with two goals and an assist.
After recording just one goal in his first four games, Staal has seven goals and six assists in the last eight. He also has a goal and an assist in each win over the Thrashers.
Staal may have a chance to continue that success against Atlanta goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who has a 1-4-1 career record and a 3.85 goals-against average versus Carolina.
Lehtonen, who has a 2.52 GAA in 13 games including 12 starts this season, is coming off a shaky performance Monday when he stopped just 18 of 22 shots in a 4-2 loss to Toronto.
The Thrashers (8-2-3) may have experienced a letdown after snapping Buffalo's season-opening and NHL record-tying 10-game winning streak with a 5-4 shootout win on Saturday.
"Sometimes coming off an emotional game like Saturday, it's tough to come back," Atlanta's Scott Mellanby said. "But there's no excuse. We've got to be ready."
After Ilya Kovalchuk scored a power-play goal to put Atlanta on the board in the first period, the Thrashers allowed three power-play goals 86 seconds apart.
Kovalchuk has scored goals in six straight games and points in the last eight. Linemate Marian Hossa, who is tied with Kovalchuk for the team lead with 17 points, was held without a point for just the fourth time Monday with two of those other contests coming against Carolina.
The Thrashers are 4-1-1 at home, outscoring opponents 23-13. Carolina is playing its ninth road game this season.