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Atlanta Thrashers coach Don Waddell was impressed by his team's focus in its most recent game. Now he hopes a brief holiday break hasn't taken it away.
The Thrashers return to action on Wednesday seeking a season-high fifth consecutive victory as they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first time in more than four years.
Atlanta (18-17-1) entered last week having lost four straight, but posted three straight home victories before winning 3-2 in overtime at St. Louis on Sunday.
"It would have been easy for us to roll over," said Waddell, whose team played those four games in a six-day stretch. "We could have been very satisfied with the weekend, but you could see the energy."
Ilya Kovalchuk scored his NHL-leading 29th goal, and Marian Hossa had the game-winner 19 seconds into overtime as the Thrashers matched their longest winning streak of the season. They will equal their longest of last season with a win Wednesday.
Sunday's victory, which snapped Atlanta's three-game road losing streak, came one night after a 3-2 shootout win over Montreal.
"To come in here and play the way we played it's an indication of how much the guys are really buying in and want to be successful," said Mark Recchi, who had a goal and an assist in his seventh game with the Thrashers.
Kari Lehtonen has been in net throughout Atlanta's win streak, allowing only two goals in each victory. He improved to 6-2-0 with a 2.64 goals-against average in nine appearances since returning on Dec. 1 from a groin injury that sidelined him for 16 games.
Kovalchuk, meanwhile, has five goals in his last five games. His 18 goals and 30 points on the road are league highs, including five goals and three assists over his last five road games.
The Thrashers have not played in Columbus since David Vyborny's hat trick lifted the Blue Jackets to a 4-2 win on Nov. 7, 2003. These teams' only meeting since that one came in Atlanta on Dec. 9, 2005, and the Thrashers won 5-2 to improve to 5-2-1 in this all-time series.
The Blue Jackets have lost four of six in Columbus, including two of three on their current four-game homestand after Sunday's 3-1 loss to Nashville. Dan Fritsche provided the goal, but his team was scoreless in four power-play chances to fall to 5-for-56 in man-advantage opportunities over the last 13 games.
"It's just disappointing because we had a chance to at least get a point," Fritsche said. "Just a tough one to swallow."
Columbus is tied with Phoenix for the third-fewest goals scored in the league with 84. The Blue Jackets have managed four goals in their last four games, winning just once in that stretch.
"We're not generating enough (offense) to give ourselves a chance to win," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.
The Blue Jackets are hoping Rick Nash can break out of his scoring slump. His pointless streak has reached a career-high seven games - a span in which Columbus is 2-4-1. Nash still leads the team with 18 goals and 31 points, but he hasn't registered a point since scoring twice in a Dec. 5 win over Colorado.