The Pittsburgh Penguins went through a few rough patches last season before winning the Stanley Cup, none worse than a five-game losing streak from late December into early January.
Right now, everything about that skid seems awfully familiar.
Almost a year to the day after halting a five-game slide by beating Atlanta at Mellon Arena, the Penguins hope to do it again Tuesday night with a seventh consecutive win over the reeling Thrashers.
Pittsburgh (26-16-1) thought it had endured its worst stretch of the season by totaling three goals in four straight losses from Nov. 5-12, but it's run into an even longer slump.
The Penguins have been outscored 19-9 during a five-game losing streak, the last four on the road. Pittsburgh outshot Florida 48-35 on Sunday but lost 6-2.
"We can't start second-guessing or make excuses, we have to work through it," said captain Sidney Crosby, whose goal Sunday was his second in eight games. "It's just a bad stretch we're in, but if we keep working hard and not let it get to us, we'll be OK."
The Penguins haven't lost six in a row since going 0-5-2 from Jan. 28-Feb. 8, 2006 -- during Crosby's rookie season -- but their current struggles should ring a bell. As part of a 12-19-1 stretch before replacing coach Michel Therrien with Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh lost five straight from Dec. 27, 2008-Jan. 5, 2009, before beating Atlanta 3-1 at home on Jan. 6.
The Penguins were held to seven goals during that skid, going scoreless on the power play. They've scored nine during the current slide and are 0 for 11 with the man advantage in the last four games.
Pittsburgh is 9 for 26 (34.6 percent) during its six-game winning streak over the Thrashers, most recently a 3-2 victory at Philips Arena on Nov. 21 behind two goals from Martin Skoula, who hasn't scored since.
One of those came on the power play, but the Penguins are last in the league in that category at 14.4 percent. They're 16-2-0 when scoring with the man advantage, and 10-14-1 if they don't.
Atlanta's last nine opponents are 10 for 30 on the power play, but it'll be tougher for Pittsburgh to convert if defenseman Sergei Gonchar (foot) misses a third straight game.
"It's not going to be easy," defenseman Brooks Orpik said of facing the Thrashers. "You look at some of the teams in the league that have beaten us this year like Carolina and Toronto, they were some of the teams at the bottom. Anyone can beat anyone."
Evgeni Malkin has five goals and eight assists in his last four games versus Atlanta, which has lost eight straight (0-5-3) -- the last six on the road.
On the heels of blowing a three-goal lead Friday in a 4-3 overtime loss at Buffalo, Atlanta came back from a three-goal deficit against the New York Islanders on Saturday before falling 6-5 in a shootout.
"We've been snake-bit the last few weeks and it was no different tonight," said goaltender Johan Hedberg, 0-2-3 with a 3.34 goals-against average during the losing streak. "It's been hurting us with lapses in games but we showed a lot of character in coming back."
The last time the Thrashers (18-17-6) went nine games without a win was an 0-8 stretch with two ties from Jan. 22-Feb. 11, 2004. They last lost nine straight in October 2002.