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Penguins-Thrashers Preview

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After a promising start to the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins are desperate for a win.

The Penguins look to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season when they visit the Southeast Division-leading Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena.

Pittsburgh (11-11-5) dropped its fourth in a row after falling 3-2 in a shootout to the New York Rangers on Thursday. The Penguins lost five straight from Nov. 4-11, beginning an 4-8-5 stretch that came after a 7-3-0 start.

Sidney Crosby and Nils Ekman each scored Thursday for the Penguins, who have managed more than three goals just once over their last 17 games. They have been outscored 57-42 over that stretch.

Still, coach Michel Therrien, who put his team through a grueling workout on Wednesday in an attempt to shake the slump, was pleased with his team's effort against New York.

"We played an outstanding game," he told the Rangers' official Web site. "We allowed only 22 shots to a team that is very dangerous offensively. Guys really played well in the system, we believe that we deserve better. It's one of those nights there is not much you can do."

Crosby, who ranks among the NHL's leaders with 37 points, had his right ankle wrapped tightly and was limping after the game, but said he felt alright. Rookie Jordan Staal, who has just one point in his last eight games, returned to the lineup after a one-game benching.

The second overall pick in the 2006 draft, Staal has seven goals including three short-handed ones.

The Thrashers (18-8-4), meanwhile, are looking to rebound after an embarrassing 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday. Goalie Kari Lehtonen was pulled after allowing five goals on 30 shots over two periods.

"We didn't show up," coach Bob Hartley said. "You don't need to be a specialist to figure out that game. Their execution was flawless. We got into penalty problems. They were skating, we were watching."

Lehtonen had allowed just five goals in his previous four starts.

"This a good wake-up call," he said. "Everybody has a lot of things to make better in the next game."

The defeat ended a five-game winning streak in which the Thrashers outscored their opponents 19-7.

"It was a pretty embarrassing loss," captain Scott Mellanby said. "We're pretty disappointed in ourselves. We're just going to have to wake up tomorrow and try to forget about it."

Marian Hossa leads the league with 41 points, and will play his first home game since a season high-tying four-point effort, including a hat trick, in a 5-0 win over Toronto on Nov. 30.

Hossa has a six-game points streak against the Penguins with two goals and 10 assists over that span.

Atlanta has won five of the last seven meetings between the teams, including a 4-3 victory at Pittsburgh on Jan. 7. The Thrashers have won three of four against the Penguins in Atlanta after dropping their first eight home games in the series.

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