Atlanta tries to avoid its first five-game road losing streak in more than a year on Saturday when it takes on an Oilers team looking to put a dent in another team's playoff chances.
Tied with Buffalo for ninth place in the East -- and two points back of the final playoff spot to begin play Friday -- the Thrashers (25-24-10) close out their three-game stretch away from Philips Arena on Wednesday versus the Sabres.
Atlanta would like to enter that matchup on a positive note, but the club has dropped 13 of 16 and is quickly fading out of postseason contention. After falling two points back of Carolina for the eighth spot with Sunday's 3-2 home defeat to the Hurricanes, Atlanta lost 4-3 at Phoenix on Thursday after leading 3-2 late in the second period.
"Our composure level is not where it needs to be," Atlanta coach Craig Ramsey said. "We're putting the puck on net, and sooner or later it's bound to go in."
Atlanta's last five-game road losing streak was an 0-6-2 stretch from Dec. 16, 2009-Jan. 5, 2010.
Edmonton (18-32-8), meanwhile, is trying to win three straight at Rexall Place for the first time since March 19-23. Since losing a season-high seven in a row at home, the NHL-worst Oilers have posted consecutive 4-1 wins over Dallas and Montreal to improve to 2-3-0 on a six-game stretch in Alberta.
"At the end of the day, that's what we have right now, playing the spoiler," coach Tom Renney said following Thursday's win over the Canadiens. "We have to continue to gain respect.
"Especially after the three games that preceded these two that have been well-chronicled as not being very good at home. We are a proud organization. We want to represent Edmonton and our fans the way they would like us to and that means flat-out hard work and showing up every night."
Getting called out by general manager Steve Tambellini prior to Monday's practice surely provided a boost, but the Oilers' turnaround can largely be attributed to the improved play of veteran netminder Nikolai Khabibulin, who has turned away 60 of 62 shots in the last two games. He had a 3.50 goals-against average while losing his previous 14.
Khabibulin is 7-4-2 with a 2.71 GAA in 14 career starts against Atlanta. He stopped 27 shots in the teams' last meeting -- a 3-2 Thrashers home win Nov. 15, 2009.
Atlanta goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, 0-3-1 with a 4.67 GAA in his last four road starts, has never faced Edmonton.
The Oilers' last three-game winning streak was part of a season-best four-game run Nov. 29-Dec. 4. They avoided a third straight home loss to Atlanta, winning 4-3 in overtime on March 12, 2009, in the teams' last matchup at Rexall Place.
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