The Florida Panthers would like to break their pattern of alternating a loss with a win, which they've done over their past eight games. If their power play performs anything like it did their last time out, there's a good chance the trend won't continue.
The Panthers look to ride their suddenly hot power play to a second straight victory Tuesday as they wrap up a five-game road trip against the last-place Atlanta Thrashers.
Florida (32-23-8) is tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference, but hasn't won back-to-back games since a three-game run from Feb. 10-13. They're 4-4-0 since, due in part to woeful production with the man advantage.
Florida went 3-for-43 on the power play in 13 games in February, and the Panthers were 26th in the league at 14.8 percent heading into a matchup with Washington on Sunday.
Florida, though, scored three power-play goals in the first period against the Capitals en route to a 6-2 victory over its Southeast Division rivals.
"It was such a boost to our confidence to just get our power play going. It's been so long," said defenseman Bryan McCabe, who had a goal and an assist with the man advantage.
The Panthers are 1-for-12 on the power play in three meetings with the Thrashers this season. That didn't prove to be a hindrance for Florida in the latest meeting, as it went 0-for-4 with a manpower advantage but won 8-4 on Jan. 10.
One of the few things the Thrashers (23-34-6) have done well this season is score on the power play, converting at 20.0 percent to tie for 11th in the NHL.
A power-play goal made the difference in their latest game. Atlanta trailed Carolina 3-1 midway through the third period at home Saturday, but tied it and then took the lead with 1:28 left on Rich Peverley's man-advantage goal. Ilya Kovalchuk added an empty netter to clinch a 5-3 win.
"It seems all season long we have been great in the third, but sometimes we give up too much in the first two and we can't catch them," said Kovalchuk, who had two goals and three assists. "If we can play like that all game, we will win a lot."
Kovalchuk has 13 goals and eight assists over his last 10 games.
"I think he's just playing harder," coach John Anderson said. "He wants it. You can see it in his eyes. That's when you know he's going to play a good game."
Kovalchuk, with three goals and two assists versus Florida this season, has 16 goals in his last 17 games against the Panthers.
Tomas Vokoun started Florida's first three games against Atlanta, but Craig Anderson has been in goal for Florida's last four contests while Vokoun recovers from an inner-ear infection. Vokoun practiced Monday and may play Tuesday.
Leading goal scorer David Booth, though, won't. Booth, who has one goal in his last 14 games, suffered an upper-body injury in the win at Washington.
The Panthers lead the season series 2-1-0.