As long as this season has felt for the Atlanta Thrashers, they still have half of 2008-09 in front of them.
Traveling to New Jersey and facing a Devils club they've lost to five of the last six matchups might not be the best way to open the second half Thursday night.
Atlanta (13-23-5) ended its first half of the season on Tuesday with a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh. The Thrashers scored one goal for the fourth time in the last six games. They've gone 1-4-1 during this stretch.
"There are no words to describe the disappointment," said Atlanta coach John Anderson, whose team is 0-2-1 and averaging 1.67 goals in its last three road games. "We have to pick ourselves up every day and keep pushing. We can't feel sorry for ourselves, because nobody else will."
New Jersey definitely didn't in the teams' last meeting, defeating the visiting Thrashers 6-1 on Nov. 1. The Devils won 1-0 in Atlanta on Oct. 16.
Ilya Kovalchuk, who leads the Thrashers with 40 points, scored against the Penguins - his 14th goal of the season. He has three goals and two assists in his last five games. In Atlanta's two losses to New Jersey this season, though, Kovalchuk has no points.
"That's our major problem right now. We don't have enough talent in this locker room to play one game easy and one game hard, you know?" he said.
Bryan Little, who has a team-leading 19 goals, was out for Tuesday's game with sore ribs after getting injured in the Thrashers' 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday. Little is listed as day-to-day.
Atlanta has allowed three or more goals in five straight games and 32 of 41 contests this season. The Thrashers rank last in the NHL, allowing 3.63 goals per game. New Jersey, meanwhile, is averaging 3.33 goals during its current 4-2-0 stretch.
The Devils (23-13-3) return to the Prudential Center following a 3-2 loss at Carolina on Tuesday that ended their bid for a three-game winning streak.
New Jersey, which scored four goals in each of its previous five games, trailed the Hurricanes 3-0 and didn't find the back of the net until Paul Martin notched a 6-on-4 power-play goal with 7:48 left. Devils coach Brent Sutter pulled Scott Clemmensen twice in the final period on New Jersey's power-play opportunities.
"You're not creating anything offensively, so what have you got to lose," said Sutter, whose club has won nine of 12 at home.
While New Jersey has converted 23.8 percent of its power plays in its last six games, Atlanta has killed a league-low 72.3 percent of opponent's power plays this season.
Patrik Elias scored on Tuesday - his 18th goal of the season - to extend his point streak to four games. He has a goal and six assists during this span. Elias had a goal and an assist in the Devils' 6-1 win over Atlanta on Nov. 1.
Since Martin Brodeur injured his left arm in that victory, Clemmensen has gone 15-7-1 with a 2.25 GAA. In his last two starts, though, Clemmensen has a 3.06 GAA. Clemmensen has started 12 straight games, but if he gets Thursday off, the Thrashers likely won't get a break as Kevin Weekes is 5-2-0 with a 2.32 GAA in his last eight games versus Atlanta.
Since losing 1-0 to the Thrashers on Dec. 23, 2005, the Devils have averaged 3.2 goals in their last five home games against Atlanta.