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Reeling Thrashers look for spark against Panthers

Florida (4-5-1) at Atlanta (2-7-2), 5:00 pm EDT

ATLANTA (Ticker) — Wins have been hard to come by for the
Atlanta Thrashers. Luckily for them, the Florida Panthers have
been mired in a slump as well.

Losers of six straight and nine of their last 10, the reeling
Thrashers hope for a spark when they host the Panthers on
Sunday.

Ever since its 7-4 victory over the Washington Capitals in the
regular season opener, Atlanta has been caught in a downward
spiral. Due to lackluster defense and a snoozing offense, the
Thrashers have one win since October 10 – and that came in a 3-2
shootout against the Buffalo Sabres eight days later.

They have been outscored, 16-3, over their last three games –
including a 6-1 drubbing by the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
Goaltender Johan Hedberg started in place of the ill Kari
Lehtonen and was the main culprit in the Devils’ five-goal
outburst in the second period.

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Perhaps Atlanta’s misery can be traced to the mild struggles of
Ilya Kovalchuk, who has just three tallies through 11 games.
Last season, the superstar netted 52 goals – including nine
through November 1.

Also scrambling for answers in the early stages of the season,
Florida has dropped three straight games. It suffered a
deflating 3-2 loss in a shootout against the Nashville Predators
on Saturday after blowing a 2-1 lead after the second period.

Rostislav Olesz and defenseman Karlis Skrastins netted goals,
while Craig Anderson made 30 saves for the Florida, which began
a five-game road trip. However, Martin Erat scored a game-tying
goal in the third period and provided the lone tally in the
exhibition to propel Nashville.