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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, March 16th (All times eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (36-21-10) at Atlanta Thrashers (28-29-11), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers could be in much worse shape than they are when it comes to the Eastern Conference playoff race. Still, the club will not be able to improve their postseason chances until they end a lengthy losing streak.

The Thrashers will try to put the brakes on a six-game slide tonight when they welcome the Buffalo Sabres to Philips Arena.

Atlanta seemed to emerge from the Olympic break with confidence, winning its first two games in March, but since then the Thrashers have lost six in a row. Now with 14 games left, Atlanta is 11th in the Eastern Conference and five points behind Boston for the East's final playoff spot.

Meanwhile, the Sabres are currently first in the Northeast Division and three points ahead of Ottawa.

The Thrashers dropped five straight in regulation before losing a shootout decision Sunday against visiting Phoenix. Adrian Aucoin scored the game-winning goal in the fourth round of the shootout, lifting the Coyotes to a 3-2 victory.

Nik Antropov and Maxim Afinogenov each had a goal and an assist for the Thrashers, who have dropped six straight for the first time since a nine-game slide from December 19-January 5.

Ondrej Pavelec turned aside 32-of-34 shots in defeat.

"The whole 65 minutes it was a team effort. I thought we played really good. Hopefully we can build off that," Antropov said.

Thrashers defenseman Zach Bogosian missed Sunday's test with a hand injury and is questionable for tonight.

Atlanta is playing the third tilt of a five-game homestand tonight. The Thrashers have lost four straight at Philips Arena and are 15-13-5 as the host this year.

Buffalo has lost its last two games on the heels of a three-game winning streak.

Like Atlanta, the Sabres were also able to gain a point with a loss their last time out, dropping an overtime decision in Detroit on Saturday. Brian Rafalski's power-play goal 31 seconds into OT gave the Red Wings a 3-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena.

Buffalo's Tyler Myers was called for delay of game late in regulation and the penalty carried over to the extra session. Nicklas Lidstrom had the puck in the high slot and slid a backhand pass to the left circle where Rafalski cranked a one-timer through a screen and past Ryan Miller for the win.

Jochen Hecht scored both goals while Tim Connolly and Jason Pominville each posted two assists for the Sabres. Miller finished with 34 saves.

Buffalo kicked off a five-game road trip on Saturday and fell to 15-12-4 as the visitor with the loss in Motown.

Tonight marks the end of the season series between the Sabres and Thrashers. The Sabres have taken two of three meetings so far and both of Buffalo's wins came in overtime. The Thrashers still have seven wins in the last 10 matchups overall and Buffalo has dropped five of its last six in Atlanta.

03/16 10:46:35 ET

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