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Consecutive losses haven't helped the cause of an Atlanta Thrashers club struggling to move into postseason contention.
The Thrashers try to revitalize their playoff hopes and avoid a third straight defeat when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Atlanta (29-29-4) suffered its second straight loss Thursday, falling 5-3 to Southeast Division-leading Carolina. Eric Perrin, Mark Recchi and Todd White scored for the Thrashers, who are in 12th place in the Eastern Conference.
Kari Lehtonen totaled 41 saves - a number inflated by a first period in which the Hurricanes outshot the Thrashers 21-5.
"I think it was a big joke the whole first period," said Lehtonen, who fell to 2-4-0 with a 2.82 goals-against average in his last six starts. "I do not know why we were not ready."
It was the second straight subpar effort for an Atlanta club which was outshot 49-10 Sunday in a 4-1 loss at the New York Islanders. The Thrashers have not had more shots than their opponent since a 4-2 loss to Edmonton on Jan. 20.
"It's not the start we were looking for," Thrashers coach Don Waddell said after Thursday's defeat. "We had good energy in the locker room before the game and the guys were fired up, so I wish we could pinpoint it. It's pretty disappointing to come out with that kind of start."
Ilya Kovalchuk contributed two assists against Carolina, but has just three goals and three assists in his last 12 games. Still, Kovalchuk leads the Thrashers with 40 goals and 69 points.
Kovalchuk has nine goals and 20 points in 22 career meetings with the Maple Leafs.
The Thrashers - who have not lost three consecutive games since a five-game skid from Jan. 17-24 - fell to 1-2-0 on their five-game road trip, which concludes Tuesday at Montreal.
The Thrashers have won their last two visits to Toronto (25-28-9), although the Maple Leafs hold a 2-0-1 edge overall in the season series, including a 4-0 victory at Atlanta on Dec. 14, the most recent meeting.
Toronto was unable to win its third straight game, falling 5-1 to Buffalo on Thursday. Pavel Kubina scored a power-play goal for the Maple Leafs, who are second-to-last in the East and appear likely to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.
"I just don't think we showed enough urgency with the puck," coach Paul Maurice said. "We had a 3-on-1 and went offside and you can't do that in a game like this."
Vesa Toskala made 18 saves for the Maple Leafs, who look to conclude their five-game homestand with a win. Toskala is 4-0-1 with a 1.97 GAA and a shutout in five career games against the Thrashers.
Toronto will be without center Boyd Devereaux, who is sidelined for four to six weeks after he injured the medial collateral ligament in his right knee late in a win over Columbus on Tuesday.