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Islanders-Thrashers Preview @NHL

The New York Islanders and Atlanta Thrashers have had trouble earning points this season. They hope their recent play is the first step toward fixing that problem.

New York looks to win three straight games for the first time in 2008-09 and Atlanta tries to post its first back-to-back victories of the season when the teams meet at Philips Arena on Thursday night.

The Islanders (4-7-1) are tied for the second-fewest points in the NHL, one more than Atlanta (3-7-2), which along with Los Angeles has a league-low eight.

Both New York and Atlanta, though, have reason to be optimistic.

The Islanders ended a six-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime win over Columbus at home Monday before defeating the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers 2-1 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

The Thrashers snapped their own six-game skid Sunday, beating Florida 5-3 at home for just their second win in 11 games since opening the season with a 7-4 victory over Washington on Oct. 10.

New York was outshot 36-19 by the Rangers on Tuesday, but got short-handed goals from Nate Thompson and Richard Park in the first 8 minutes of the third period to back Joey MacDonald's 35 saves.

"It was a huge morale-lifter for us," Thompson said after his first NHL point broke up the scoreless tie. "I can't say enough for our team and Joey MacDonald for sticking with the game plan."

Park scored the Islanders' NHL-leading sixth short-handed goal.

"After the second period, we made a point to say, 'Let's let them beat themselves. Let's let them make some mistakes and try to capitalize on some opportunities. If we can do that and sneak two points out of here, then it's a good win,'" Park said.

Atlanta is also coming off a good win, posting its highest goal total Sunday since that season-opening victory over the Capitals. Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice and added an assist, and Erik Christiansen assisted on both of Kovalchuk's goals to lead the Thrashers.

"It seems like when I score, we win," Kovalchuk said. "We still gave up too many opportunities. We need to make sure we play defense first. We gave up two soft goals."

Rookie Ondrej Pavelec made his first career start in place of ailing Kari Lehtonen after stopping all six shots he faced in the final period of Saturday's 6-1 loss at New Jersey. Pavelec, 21, stopped 18 shots against the Panthers.

"The guys in front of me played great and did a good job and that's why we won," Pavelec said. "We played more defensive."

Atlanta and New York have struggled defensively. The Thrashers have given up 46 goals and the Islanders 41, putting both teams in the top 10 in the league in most allowed.

New York won the final two meetings between these clubs in 2007-08 to earn a split of the season series. The Islanders have recorded a point in 13 of their 16 all-time visits to Atlanta, going 9-3-2 with two ties.

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