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Thrashers hope to end skid at Florida

by Brian Compton /
THRASHERS (22-18-7) at PANTHERS (21-20-2)

TV: SPSO, Fox Sports-Florida.

Last 10: Atlanta 3-5-2; Florida 5-3-2.

Season Series: This is the fourth of six meetings between the Southeast Division rivals. Atlanta has beaten Florida twice, including a 3-2 victory at Florida on Jan. 5. Rich Peverley scored twice for the Thrashers in the win.

Big Story: Four straight losses (0-3-1) -- including back-to-back defeats over the weekend -- have left the Thrashers hanging on to a playoff spot for dear life. They enter Monday's action just one point ahead of the No. 9 Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference.

"We are a fragile team right at the moment," coach Craig Ramsay told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after a 6-1 loss at Dallas on Saturday. "We expected a bit of a roller coaster this year. We've grown as a team. I thought the response from the team, for 45 minutes, was excellent. As soon as something went against us, we didn't have the right response. We talked a lot about discipline. We have all year long. A four-minute penalty late is just not good enough. We have to stick together. We played most of this game like a team. We were good on the bench. We were good on the ice. We supported each other. I liked that a lot, but we have to understand that 60 minutes a night is required to play in the National Hockey League."

Team Scope:

Thrashers: Atlanta goalie Chris Mason left Saturday's game in the first period because of an undisclosed lower-body injury. He was hit by teammate Chris Thorburn, who was sliding after blocking a shot.
Mason briefly remained in the game and wanted to stay, but he was ultimately replaced by Ondrej Pavelec at 7:48. Pavelec allowed six goals on 24 shots.

"My job is to be ready," Pavelec said. "Anything can happen. But we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to get ready for the next one."

Panthers: Atlanta's struggles has opened the door for Florida, which is now just seven points behind the Thrashers for eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Panthers will be seeking their third straight win after beating the New Jersey Devils in overtime on Saturday night at the BankAtlantic Center. Two of their goals came via the power play.

"We talked about having a fresh start the second half of the season with the power play and with some other areas of our game, and not dragging the first-half baggage into the second half," Florida coach Pete DeBoer said.

Who's Hot: Thrashers captain Andrew Ladd has seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) in his last six games, while All-Star defenseman Tobias Enstrom has a six-game point streak and 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists) over the last 14 contests. … Panthers defenseman Dennis Wideman has three goals since Jan. 3 after finding the back of the net only once all season.

Injury Report: Jiri Slater (concussion) and Freddy Modin (upper body) are unlikely to play for the Thrashers. … Panthers forward Chris Higgins (hamstring) is day-to-day, while Byron Bitz (sports hernia) is out.

Stat Pack: Atlanta has allowed 24 goals during this four-game winless streak. … Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen has stopped 60 shots over his last two starts.

Puck Drop: "I haven't seen any offers. I've heard there is interest but that's it. There have been no offers as far as I know. I haven't talked to my agent in a few days and it's the weekend. I'm just worrying about how I play the next game and I'm preparing the best I can for that. I'm not worried at all about what happens. I'm confident in my game and the kind of player I am. I'm going to leave it at that." -- Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun on a possible contract extension
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