Things keep getting worse for the Atlanta Thrashers. This could be the perfect remedy for the ailing Florida Panthers.
When these Southeast Division foes meet Sunday in Atlanta, both desperately need points following Saturday night losses.
Atlanta dropped its sixth in a row - 6-1 to a New Jersey Devils club that had lost three consecutive games, while Florida lost its third straight with a 3-2 shootout loss at Nashville.
Since their 3-2 shootout win against Buffalo on Oct. 18, the Thrashers are 0-5-1 and have been outscored 29-12.
"We're a fragile team right now," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "It's really tough right now."
The Thrashers (2-7-2) avoided their third shutout on Saturday - and second in the past three games - as Slava Kozlov scored his fifth goal of the season with 13:30 left against backup Kevin Weekes, who was making his first appearance of the season for an injured Martin Brodeur.
With Kari Lehtonen "under the weather," according to the team, Johan Hedberg made his second start of the season for Atlanta. Lehtonen is 0-3-1 with a 4.27 GAA in his last four starts.
After allowing five goals on 33 shots in his last start - a 5-4 loss to Boston on Oct. 25 - Hedberg gave up six goals to New Jersey, including five in the second period.
"There is no reason for us having these letdowns," said Hedberg, who stopped one shot in 3:37 during Atlanta's 3-2 overtime loss at Florida on Oct. 11. "For whatever reason, we can't seem to get it together."
With Lehtonen unavailable, the Thrashers called up Ondrej Pavelec from Chicago of the AHL before the game. Pavelec replaced Hedberg to start the third period and stopped all six shots he faced.
While Atlanta fell to 0-4-2 away from Philips Arena, Florida opened its five-game road trip by giving up a third-period lead.
The Panthers allowed Martin Erat to make it 2-all with 10:09 left in the third before he scored the lone goal in the shootout.
"We went out and played a good road game against a good team," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "I thought it was back and forth. We gave them a chance to hang around. Then they got the goal in the third."
Rostislav Olesz and Karlis Skrastins each scored their second goals of the season for Florida (4-5-1), but Pekka Rinne stopped all 10 of the Panthers' shots in the third and both attempts in overtime.
"We had some good chances at the end of the second to put them away when we were up 2-1," DeBoer added. "Their goaltender made a couple of real good saves."
In his third start of 2008-09, Craig Anderson made 30 saves for Florida.
The Panthers won their final three games in Atlanta in 2007-08 following 11 consecutive road losses to the Thrashers.