Following a two-week break, the Thrashers look to deal the Panthers their seventh straight loss Tuesday night at Philips Arena.
Atlanta (26-24-10) and Florida (24-27-10) have had plenty of time to rest up for the final six weeks of the regular season, but some players have been busier than others.
Thrashers standouts Ondrej Pavelec and Pavel Kubina (Czech Republic), Tobias Enstrom and Johnny Oduya (Sweden) and Maxim Afinogenov (Russia) all took part in the Olympics. Dennis Seidenberg (Germany) and Tomas Vokoun (Czech Republic) of the Panthers were there as well.
None of them earned medals, however, with Canada taking gold following a dramatic win over the United States. Finland won the bronze-medal game.
With the NHL regular season winding down, those players are going to be counted on heavily as Atlanta and Florida try to make a final push.
The Thrashers are in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind eighth-place Montreal. The Panthers' situation is more dire, as they trail the Canadiens by six points.
A loss to Atlanta would give Florida seven straight defeats for the first time since a 12-game skid (0-8-4) from Oct. 27-Nov. 23, 2005, but the Panthers don't plan on giving up on the season.
"We definitely haven't written off anything," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "We believe we can get in. ... We've got a lot of hockey left to play. We don't think we've played as well as we can yet. We're going to have to be the hottest team in the league down the stretch."
If the Panthers truly believed they had a chance, however, they might not have traded one of their best defensemen. Two days before the trade deadline, Florida sent Jordan Leopold to Pittsburgh on Monday for a second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Leopold is set to be a free agent following this season. Dmitry Kulikov, 19, will get more ice time for the Panthers.
Florida's biggest issues have been on the offensive end, though. The Panthers have been without second-leading scorer Nathan Horton (17 goals, 29 assists) for the past 10 games, and they've scored two goals or fewer in each of those contests.
Horton is expected to face the Thrashers.
Florida totaled one goal in two games before losing 3-2 in a shootout with Boston on Feb. 13, its last contest before the break.
The Thrashers have been able to remain competitive despite trading top goal-scorer Ilya Kovalchuk on Feb. 4. They're playing 12 of their next 16 games at home, and are a hot streak away from moving into position for the second postseason berth in franchise history.
Atlanta hasn't played since a 5-4 shootout loss at Chicago on Feb. 13, when it got goals from Evander Kane, Jim Slater, Afinogenov and Enstrom.
Kane has two goals and an assist in his last two games and ranks fifth among rookies with 14 goals. He found the back of the net in Atlanta's 4-2 win over Florida on Feb. 6, the teams' last meeting, helping the Thrashers take a 3-2-0 lead in the season series.