Reeling Thrashers look for spark against Panthers

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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.

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.

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