Two poor games on offense have hurt the Florida Panthers' playoff chances. Their lack of success against the Atlanta Thrashers last week was particularly perplexing.
In need of some help to make the postseason, the Panthers look to make up for their effort against a defensively mediocre Thrashers club as the Southeast Division rivals meet at Philips Arena on Thursday night.
Florida (39-30-11) is two points behind the New York Rangers in the race for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot, with two games remaining for both teams.
If New York loses both, that would open the door for the Panthers to have a shot at their first postseason berth since 2000. But if the Rangers get one more win or Florida suffers one more regulation loss, the Panthers would be eliminated.
New York currently owns the first tiebreaker with two more wins than Florida, but if each team finishes with the same victory total, the next tiebreaker would be the season series and the Panthers won that 3-0-1.
Florida is also three points behind Montreal for seventh place.
"I don't know, I'm not a statistician," coach Peter DeBoer said about the Panthers' playoff chances. "We have to win our next two games. I think we have a chance to get in."
Florida concludes the season at home against Washington. New York finishes with a home-and-home series with Philadelphia.
The Panthers won't give themselves much of a chance to stay in the hunt if they struggle again offensively. They've lost two of their last three games, 2-1 to Philadelphia on Tuesday night and 3-1 to Atlanta (34-40-6) on Friday night.
Despite posting 36 shots against goalie Johan Hedberg, Florida's only goal against the Thrashers came from Gregory Campbell. Atlanta is one of the league's worst defensive teams, allowing 3.42 goals per game - 4.1 in its last 10 contests.
The Panthers scored 18 goals in their previous four games versus the Thrashers this season, winning three. David Booth, who leads Florida with 28 goals, had five in four games against Atlanta before being held without a point in last week's contest.
The winger has two goals in his last 11 games overall.
Atlanta couldn't stop high-scoring Washington in a home-and-home series, losing 6-4 on the road Sunday and 4-2 on Tuesday night. The Thrashers won their previous four.
Atlanta has had its own problems offensively, going 0-for-12 on the power play against the Capitals and 0-for-19 in their last four games.
Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk has been held off the scoresheet in two of his last three games after posting five goals and six assists in his previous six games.
Rich Peverley, though, has four points (three goals, one assist) in his last three games. The center has 13 goals and 20 assists in 37 games since being claimed off waivers Jan. 10.
Peverley had two goals Friday against the Panthers after being held without a point in his first four career games against them.
Florida finishes the season at home Saturday night against Tampa Bay.