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Panthers-Thrashers Preview
National Hockey League

Panthers-Thrashers Preview

Published Mar. 4, 2011 2:08 p.m. ET

The Atlanta Thrashers have actually lost ground in the playoff race during what looked to be a favorable homestand.

The Thrashers will close a disappointing five-game stretch at Philips Arena on Saturday night when they face the Florida Panthers.

When Atlanta (26-28-11) began this homestand, it was five points out of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. However, that deficit has grown after the Thrashers picked up only three points in their last four games, including 3-1 losses to Montreal and Ottawa in the last two.

While the Thrashers are running out of time to make a playoff run, coach Craig Ramsay said following the loss to the last-place Senators on Thursday that the team can't be looking at the standings.


"I'm worried about the very next game," he said. "We have to be so focused on the very next game. We can't look at anything else. Nothing."

The Thrashers continue to put a lot of shots on net, but have little to show for it. They outshot Ottawa 43-27, but were held to one goal for the fourth time in the last five games. Atlanta had at least 40 shots in each of those five contests, but it is only 2-5-2 this season when putting that many shots on goal.

"There's a lot of disappointment hanging over the room right at this moment," Ramsay said. "But as a team we've regrouped from other disappointments and come back with a strong effort and I fully expect to see that again. Maybe we'll just stick with 25 shots but make some more plays and get some more traffic."

After failing to take advantage of the conference's worst team, Atlanta will try to bounce back against Florida (26-31-7), which is in 13th place in the East. The Thrashers opened the homestand against the Panthers on Feb. 25, losing 2-1 in a shootout.

Atlanta is 3-1-1 this season against Florida, but both losses have come at home.

The Panthers have dropped three straight since last week's win over the Thrashers, scoring two total goals in that stretch. They fell 4-0 to Montreal on Thursday, when Tomas Vokoun was pulled after allowing two goals on three shots.

Vokoun's early struggles came after Scott Clemmensen gave up two first-period goals in a 2-1 loss at Carolina on Tuesday. Florida has dropped seven of nine, getting outscored 12-2 in the first period of those nine games.

"It's obviously disappointing to be losing the way we are lately," Clemmensen said. "You just keep trying, going out there and doing your best. You can't do anything more than that. We were so close all season long, we still are, but if we keep losing we'll keep slipping further and further behind. We've got to get this thing going in the other direction."

The Thrashers will try to jump on the Panthers early, but they haven't scored first in any of their last five games.


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