Only one of them can lose Tuesday night when they meet in Atlanta.
The Thrashers (19-19-6) opened a four-game homestand Thursday by beating the New York Rangers 2-1 in a shootout to snap a nine-game losing streak. They failed to sustain any momentum Saturday and suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season, getting outscored 4-0 in the third period of an 8-1 loss to Washington.
"You can't stop playing, no matter what," said coach John Anderson, who claimed the Thrashers "felt sorry for ourselves" during the final period.
The Senators (22-20-4) aren't faring much better, getting outscored 16-4 during a four-game losing streak while dealing with injuries to right wing Daniel Alfredsson (shoulder), center Jason Spezza (knee) and left wing Milan Michalek (upper body). The trio has combined for 30 goals and 42 assists, with Michalek's 16 goals leading the team.
Ottawa was also missing defenseman Filip Kuba (upper body) and right wing Jesse Winchester (knee) when it fell 4-1 at NHL-worst Carolina on Sunday to open a five-game road trip.
"Right now it seems what can go wrong is going wrong," coach Cory Clouston said. "We've just got to suck it up and move forward."
Not much has gone right on the road. The Senators are 6-12-1 away from home, better than only the Hurricanes' 3-14-4 mark. They've dropped 12 of their last 15 away from Ottawa while being outscored 60-32.
With many of their top scorers sidelined, the Senators could use some production from Mike Fisher, second on the team with 15 goals and the leader with 32 points.
The center, though, hasn't found the net in 13 games, and has been held without a point in the last four. Fisher has two goals and an assist in two meetings with Atlanta this season, including a goal in a 3-1 loss at home Oct. 31.
"I'm not playing with the confidence that I was earlier (in the season), that's for sure," Fisher told the Senators' official Web site. "I know that I'm relied upon to produce more offensively. It's been tough lately, but I know that I can be better."
Despite its recent slump, Ottawa remains tied with Montreal for the final two playoff positions in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Philadelphia and two in front of the New York Islanders.
The Thrashers are four points back of the Senators and Canadiens, but the Southeast Division race appears to be getting away from them. They're tied for second with Tampa Bay, but are 16 points back of the first-place Capitals.
Just like Ottawa, Atlanta is struggling to find the net, getting held to two goals or fewer in each of the last three games. The Thrashers have given up four or more goals in 11 of their last 13 contests.
"This team is having trouble scoring goals," Anderson said. "Our big guns, they have to start scoring goals. We have some guys on the team that are underachieving in the scoring category."
Ilya Kovalchuk hasn't managed a point in three games after accumulating nine goals and 11 assists in his previous 13. The left wing last endured a four-game scoring drought Jan. 17-22, 2008.
He has 21 goals and 11 assists in 28 games against Ottawa.
The Senators and Thrashers have split their last four matchups at Philips Arena.