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Thrashers-Panthers Preview
National Hockey League

Thrashers-Panthers Preview

Published Jan. 17, 2011 10:14 p.m. ET

The Atlanta Thrashers and Florida Panthers are heading in opposite directions.

The Thrashers look to bounce back from another lopsided defeat and avoid losing five straight games for the first time all season Monday night against a Panthers team seeking its first four-game winning streak in nearly three years.

Florida, though, will have to play without captain Bryan McCabe, who suffered a broken jaw in the team's most recent victory.

Atlanta (22-18-7) was in fifth place in the Eastern Conference following a 3-2 victory at Florida on Jan. 5, but has gone 0-3-1 since to drop to eighth. Aside from an overtime loss to Carolina last Sunday, the other three defeats haven't been close for the Thrashers, who are coming off Saturday's 6-1 loss in Dallas.


All-Star Dustin Byfuglien, leading the team with 41 points, has no points in his last five games for Atlanta, which has been outscored 24-9 during its slide.

"We can't feel sorry for ourselves," goaltender Ondrej Pavelec said. "We've got to get ready for the next one."

The Thrashers' struggles combined with a surprising three-game winning streak by the Panthers have allowed Florida to pull within seven points of Atlanta for the East's final playoff spot.

The Panthers (21-20-2) defeated New Jersey 3-2 in overtime on Saturday - their second overtime victory of this winning streak. Dmitry Kulikov scored the game-winner against the Devils, while Dennis Wideman and Evgeny Dadonov recorded power-play goals in regulation.

Florida, which hasn't won four straight games since reeling off seven in a row from March 2-16, 2008, is 5 for 13 (38.5 percent) with the man advantage in winning the first three games of a six-game homestand after going 2 for 32 (6.3 percent) in its previous 10.

"We talked about having a fresh start the second half of the season with the power play and with some other areas of our game, and not dragging the first-half baggage into the second half," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said.

DeBoer is expected to start Scott Clemmensen in net for a third straight game in place of No. 1 goalie Tomas Vokoun, who is 1-2-0 with a 4.05 goals-against average in his last three starts.

Clemmensen made 33 saves Saturday, and is 3-1-0 with a 2.18 GAA in his last five games. He replaced an ineffective Vokoun against the Thrashers earlier this month, and stopped all 16 shots he faced. He is 1-3-0 with a 2.24 GAA and a shutout lifetime against Atlanta.

McCabe won't be able to help out on defense after suffering a broken jaw when a puck struck him in the face against the Devils. He's logged more ice time than any Panthers player except Wideman, but is expected to miss four to six weeks after undergoing surgery Sunday.

Pavelec is likely to be in goal for the Thrashers despite struggling mightily of late.

Pavelec, 3-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA in four career starts against Florida, was forced into action Saturday after backup Chris Mason left in the first period because of an undisclosed lower-body injury. Pavelec allowed a power-play goal on the first shot he faced and stopped 18 of 24 shots.

He is 0-3-1 with a 5.48 GAA since making 33 saves against the Panthers.

Rich Peverley had two goals in that game for Atlanta, which has won four of the last five in this series.


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