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Thrashers try to end seven-game slide

by John Kreiser

THRASHERS (18-17-5) at ISLANDERS (16-18-8)

Last 10 -- Atlanta 2-6-2; New York 4-5-1

Season series
-- The Islanders had their way with the Thrashers in their first two meetings this season, winning 6-3 on Long Island on Nov. 7 and 4-1 in Atlanta on Dec. 3. The Islanders pay their second and final visit to Philips Arena on March 4.

Big story
-- Both teams are coming off games in which they got one point, but the circumstances couldn't be much different. Atlanta took a 3-0 lead at Buffalo on Friday night, only to see the Sabres rally to tie the game and win 4-3 on Derek Roy's goal with 58 seconds left in OT, following a fluke bounce on a rimaround. They are 0-5-2 in their last seven games. The Islanders scored a third-period goal to force overtime but lost 3-2 in a shootout at Ottawa on Thursday but are 3-1-1 in their last five games.

Team scope:

-- Atlanta desperately needs a victory to end a seven-game losing streak that includes five losses on its current seven-game trip, which ends Thursday in Pittsburgh. The most painful loss came Friday night at HSBC Arena, where the Thrashers raced out to an early 3-0 lead only to lose in OT.

''We had our chances,'' Thrashers coach John Anderson said. ''I'm sure one more goal would have done it. We're going through a stretch where we make one mistake and it ends up in our net.''

Islanders -- John Tavares will be happy to see December end. The Isles' star rookie was scoreless again on Thursday and has just one goal in his last 11 games. He also was stopped on the decisive shootout attempt in Ottawa.

"Obviously, I want to put that one in," said Tavares, who a year earlier had rallied Canada to victory over Team USA at the World Junior Championships, also at Scotiabank Place. "It just kind of rolled off my stick, and I thought I had him. We pick up a point and move on."

Who's hot -- Atlanta captain Ilya Kovalchuk has goals in five of his last six games. His goal against the Sabres was his 600th NHL point. … Dwayne Roloson has taken the starting goaltender's job and is 3-0-1 in his last four games while allowing just six goals.

Injury report -- Thrashers defenseman Mark Popovic is out with a broken foot. Goalie Kari Lehtonen has not played yet this season due to back surgery. … Isles forward Tim Jackman left Monday's game with an eye injury but may be able to play. Goaltender Rick DiPietro played a full 60 minutes in the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers' 4-2 loss to Providence. That's a milestone for DiPietro, who has missed a full year as he tries to return from knee surgery.

Stat pack -- The Thrashers went just 4-10-1 in December after a hot start that had them in the top eight in the East. Though they killed off all three Buffalo power plays on Friday, the Thrashers' PK unit has allowed 12 goals on their its last 25 opportunities. … The Isles' power play is just 2-for-40 in its last 10 games, a stretch that has mostly coincided with Tavares' slump. Before that, they had scored five PPGs (four by Tavares) in three games.

Puck drop - The Thrashers are the one team the Isles have handled easily this season. Atlanta is in tough part of its schedule; this is the Thrashers' fourth game in six nights, all on the road. The Islanders are struggling to score - the win over Atlanta in December was the last time they've scored more than three goals.

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