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Thursday, February 8th (All times eastern)

Atlanta Thrashers (29-18-9) at Colorado Avalanche (26-23-4), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Two teams in need of a victory will face off this evening at the Pepsi Center, where the Colorado Avalanche host an Atlanta Thrashers club mired in a three-game losing streak.

Atlanta still remains atop the Southeast Division, but its once-sizeable lead has dwindled down to five points over the resurgent Tampa Bay Lightning. Since beginning the new year with a victory over Ottawa, the Thrashers have gone 5-7-3 over their last 15 games.

The Thrashers just completed a disappointing six-game homestand with Tuesday's shootout loss to Buffalo. Daniel Briere netted two regulation goals and also scored during the deciding phase to give the Eastern Conference-leading Sabres a 4-3 triumph.

Ilya Kovalchuk, Jon Sim and Scott Mellanby had the goals for Atlanta, which finished just 2-3-1 on the home stretch. Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves over the first 65 minutes but stopped just one of three shootout chances.

Tonight's matchup starts up a six-game road swing for the Thrashers, who have posted a better away mark than at Philips Arena this season. Atlanta is 15-9-4 as the visitor, compared to 14-9-5 mark at home.

Colorado, which will be playing the finale of a five-game homestand, is currently six points behind Minnesota for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Avalanche had dropped four of their last five games before rallying for a 5-4 overtime victory over Florida on Tuesday.

Paul Stastny scored with 37 seconds remaining in regulation to send the contest into extra minutes, then set up Joe Sakic's game-winner 25 seconds into overtime.

Sakic added two assists on the evening and Jose Theodore stopped 28-of-32 shots for Colorado, which improved to 2-2-0 on the residency.

Tonight's showdown will be the 487th consecutive game played by Avs defenseman Karlis Skrastins, which will establish a new NHL record for blueliners. The 32-year-old Russian, who has not missed a game since February 18, 2000, tied the mark set by Hall of Famer Tim Horton from 1961-68 during Tuesday's win.

Colorado is also expected to get forward Brad May in the lineup for the first time this season. The rugged veteran has been sidelined after undergoing shoulder surgery in September.

These teams have not faced one another since they played to a 1-1 tie in Atlanta on January 22, 2004. The Thrashers came away with a 4-3 overtime victory in their most recent visit to the Pepsi Center, back on February 27, 2003.

02/08 10:41:50 ET


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