After a brief road trip cooled them off, the Pittsburgh Penguins should be happy to return home still having a chance to climb atop the Atlantic Division.
Going for their fifth straight home win, the Penguins look to move into a tie for the division lead and the Atlanta Thrashers hope to avoid falling into one when the teams square off on Saturday.
Pittsburgh (41-23-10) had won five in a row overall before losing consecutive road games to the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders this week. Now back in the comforts of Mellon Arena, where they are 23-9-5 this season, the Penguins will look to get back on track against an Atlanta team that has lost six of eight on the road.
With the Thrashers (39-26-10) now facing back-to-back road games -- they visit Florida on Wednesday -- their Southeast Division lead could be at stake. They are only two points ahead of second-place Tampa Bay, which hosts Ottawa on Saturday.
"Things are going good right now for us," Atlanta forward Keith Tkachuk told the team's official Web site. "This is the perfect time to do it because you want momentum going into the playoffs. We're fighting for that division title that we want."
Despite their bad trip to New York, the Penguins are still within two points of first place because division-leading New Jersey has lost three in a row. The Devils visit Florida on Saturday.
Pittsburgh has not lost three straight since Jan. 7-10, and hasn't gone three consecutive games without recording a point since Dec. 1-5.
Sidney Crosby, leading the NHL with 108 points, was held scoreless in both games of the road trip. Penguins second-leading scorer Evgeni Malkin missed a penalty shot in the second period that would have tied the game against the Islanders, and Pittsburgh went on to lose 3-1.
"It was good, hard hockey," forward Mark Recchi said. "We just want to keep trying to do the things we do best to win games."
Pittsburgh has won plenty at home, failing to record a point only once in its last 18 contests at Mellon Arena and winning 15 of those.
That doesn't bode well for an Atlanta team which is looking to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since a four-game skid from Feb. 10-17.
The Thrashers had won eight of 10 overall before losing 5-1 to San Jose on Thursday, seeing their franchise-record home win streak snapped at seven games. Atlanta struck first on Pascal Dupuis' goal, but gave up five goals in a 23:04 stretch spanning the first and second periods.
"If we tighten up defensively we're going to be fine," Tkachuk said. "We have a lot of power up front. It's just a matter of playing well in our own end. That's the key."
The Thrashers are 8-3-0 since acquiring Tkachuk from St. Louis at the trade deadline. They had lost six of seven before his arrival. Tkachuk has six goals and three assists for Atlanta.
While the Thrashers rank 26th in the league in penalty killing at 79.3 percent, they have only allowed six power-play goals in their opponents' last 60 opportunities.
Pittsburgh is fifth in the league with a 19.8 power-play percentage, but has gone 0-for-10 with the man advantage during its two-game skid.
The Thrashers are 2-0-1 against Pittsburgh this season, and have won five of six in the series. Slava Kozlov has two goals, four assists and a shootout goal against the Penguins this season. Crosby has two goals and two assists against Atlanta, but was held scoreless in the last meeting, a 4-2 Thrashers win on Dec. 27.