Following their longest home losing streak in more than four years, the Southeast Division-leading Atlanta Thrashers haven't lost at Philips Arena all month. It won't be easy to keep it up, though, when they host the best road team in the NHL on Sunday.
The Thrashers look to set a franchise record with their seventh straight home win when they meet the Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres.
Atlanta (38-25-10) lost all five home games in February, including a 4-3 shootout defeat to the Sabres (46-19-6) on Feb. 6. It was the first time the Thrashers lost five straight at home since Dec. 18, 2002-Jan. 5, 2003.
March has been a completely different story, however, as the Thrashers matched a franchise record with their sixth straight home victory after defeating the New York Rangers 2-1 in overtime on Friday. They also won six in a row at home from March 20-April 15 last season.
"I hope we can keep it going because this crowd is pretty awesome," backup goalie Johan Hedberg said. "Come playoff time, this is going to be a tough building to come into."
Atlanta is outscoring opponents 23-10 during its home winning streak and is getting solid goaltending from starter Kari Lehtonen and Hedberg, who made 38 saves against the Rangers.
Lehtonen will be back in goal for this game. He is 5-0-0 with a 1.80 goals-against average in his last five home starts and 3-3-1 with a 2.93 GAA in his career against Buffalo.
Atlanta right wing Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist against the Rangers, and has a point in 12 of his last 13 games, recording eight goals and 12 assists in that span.
The Thrashers have struggled against the Sabres, who have won three of their last four in Atlanta and are 2-0-1 in the season series between the teams. Buffalo has the best road record in the league at 23-9-3 and is 4-0-1 away from home since Feb. 27.
The Sabres have won their last two games after a season-high four-game losing skid, moving closer to clinching the top spot in the East. With 98 points, Buffalo has a four-point lead over New Jersey for first place in the conference.
"We're also fighting for position so it's not like we're just coasting in here," Sabres center Chris Drury said. "Every point is huge for us and we want to finish absolutely as high as we can."
Buffalo defeated Tampa Bay, which trails Atlanta by four points in the Southeast, 3-2 on Friday behind two goals from Jason Pominville.
"This is the time of the year when things really get exciting," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "The pressure builds inside the game and you see what guys are made of, whether they're going to handle it or not handle it."
Ryan Miller stopped 35 shots against the Lightning to snap a personal four-game losing streak. Miller is 2-0-1 with a 2.53 GAA against Atlanta this season and 4-1-1 with a 2.28 GAA in his career against the Thrashers.
Thomas Vanek, who is second on the Sabres with 34 goals, has gone a season-high seven straight games without a score. He has four goals against the Thrashers this season and six in seven career games against them, tied for his most against any opponent.
Center Daniel Briere, who leads the Sabres with 86 points, has four goals and two assists against Atlanta this season.