The Edmonton Oilers probably need to earn several points during their three-game homestand to maintain their tenuous grip on a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Starting it with a victory over the Atlanta Thrashers doesn't look as easy as it once did.
The Thrashers will look to win a fourth straight game for the first time since November on Thursday night in Edmonton, where they haven't won in more than eight years.
The Oilers (32-27-7) are tied for seventh place in the West after a 4-3 overtime loss at Montreal on Tuesday night, but they're just four points ahead of 13th-place Los Angeles atop a logjam for the conference's final two playoff spots.
Edmonton led the Canadiens 3-2 with five minutes to play in the third period, but Saku Koivu scored twice, including 1:40 into overtime, to deal the Oilers their seventh loss in 10 games.
"It was disappointing, but a lot of good positive signs in terms of the way we played, and now we've got to get some momentum back home," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said.
The Oilers outshot Montreal 17-2 in the second period, when they scored all three of their goals. Defenseman Sheldon Souray had a goal and an assist but left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return, leaving his status unclear for Thursday's game.
Dwayne Roloson made his 22nd consecutive start for Edmonton, and figures to continue as the team's workhorse goaltender down the stretch. In six career appearances against Atlanta, he is 4-0-0 with a tie and a 2.36 goals-against average.
With Colorado and St. Louis also set to visit Edmonton on this homestand, the Oilers will face three teams among the bottom five in their respective conference standings. They've won three straight against the Thrashers, whose last victory at Rexall Place was a 3-1 win on Oct. 25, 2000.
Atlanta (26-35-6) returns to the NHL's northernmost venue with a hot goaltender. Kari Lehtonen has tripled his season shutout total in his last three starts, blanking a pair of opponents and winning all three games as the Thrashers matched their second-longest win streak of the season.
Lehtonen has stopped 87 of 89 shots during that stretch, lowering his GAA to 3.00.
"I can't explain it," Lehtonen said after making 35 saves in a 3-0 win at Colorado on Tuesday night. "It isn't anything technical. I just feel comfortable, and the team in front of me has been comfortable with me."
The Thrashers haven't won four in a row since a five-game streak in early November, but they'll have a good chance if their strong defensive play continues.
Offense has rarely been a problem this season, but Atlanta ranks 29th in the league with a 3.37 team GAA. The Thrashers have held the opposition scoreless in 15 power-play chances over the last four games.
"When you're getting great goaltending, it makes the rest of the game a little easier," coach John Anderson said.
Against the Avalanche, rookie defenseman Zach Bogosian scored the game-winning goal and leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk added two assists.
Kovalchuk has ramped up his production lately, totaling 15 goals and 13 assists in his last 14 games - easily the most points in the NHL over that span.