Though coach Craig Hartsburg recognizes that his Ottawa Senators haven't been at their best through the first two months of the season, he's confident they'll regroup quickly.
The Senators seek their third straight victory at Scotiabank Place on Wednesday night when they open a three-game homestand against the struggling Atlanta Thrashers.
Ottawa (8-10-4) made its 11th consecutive playoff appearance last season, but hasn't looked like much of a contender this season, sitting last in the Northeast Division with 20 points - one more than league-worst Atlanta (8-13-3).
The Senators appeared to be climbing out of their rut toward the end of November with wins over the New York Rangers and Toronto. That success, however, was disrupted by their sixth straight road loss, 4-2 against the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Dany Heatley and captain Daniel Alfredsson each had a goal and an assist, but that wasn't enough as Ottawa fell to 2-5-2 since posting back-to-back wins Nov. 4-6.
Hartsburg, though, didn't dwell much on the loss and expects his players to instead focus on the next contest.
"The key thing for us right now is don't let this slip any more than one game," Hartsburg told the Senators' official Web site. "We're in a situation where we thought we were starting to play pretty well but in (Saturday's) game, we didn't. The biggest thing is to make sure that's a one-game situation."
Hartsburg's club hasn't been overwhelming opponents offensively with a league-low 52 goals, a stark contrast from last season when Ottawa was second in the NHL with 261 goals. The Senators' struggling offense, though, could benefit from facing an Atlanta team that has allowed an Eastern Conference-worst 87 goals, 30 coming in the last eight contests.
Alfredsson has 15 goals and 17 assists in 26 games against the Thrashers while Jason Spezza has two goals and 11 assists during a seven-game point streak versus Atlanta.
Ottawa's defense remains one of the best in the East, allowing 2.41 goals per game thanks in part to Alex Auld, who boasts a 2.02 goals-against average in 16 games.
Auld stopped 21 shots Saturday and will make his ninth straight start Wednesday. He has allowed 15 goals on 109 shots in losing four of his last five starts versus the Thrashers.
Winning has been difficult for Atlanta, which has dropped four straight and is 1-6-1 since a season-high five-game win streak.
In the opener of their three-game road trip on Tuesday, the Thrashers scored three times in 59 seconds - breaking a franchise record - in the third period and nearly overcame a three-goal deficit, but their rally fell short in a 5-4 loss at Montreal.
"We just got a little momentum, got a power play, got a little more momentum and then it seemed like it was kind of even and they started skating a little more when it got to 3-3," said defenseman Ron Hainsey, who had two goals and an assist.
Ilya Kovalchuk contributed two assists, and has 17 (five goals, 12 assists) of his team-leading 23 points over his last 13 contests. He has 19 goals and nine assists in 23 career games versus the Senators.
Atlanta dropped three of four matchups to Ottawa last season, losing both meetings at Scotiabank Place.