Thursday NHL Picks

Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their hockey picks and predictions for Thursday, January 29.

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New York Islanders at Atlanta Thrashers, 7:05PM ET

The New York Islanders aren't playing well against many teams these days. They've been particularly bad against the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Thrashers look to sweep their season series with the Islanders for the first time in club history Thursday night at Philips Arena.

This game is a matchup of two of the NHL's worst teams. Atlanta (17-27-5) has 39 points, putting it in a tie with Ottawa for the second-fewest in the league.

New York (13-29-5), meanwhile, is enduring its worst season since going 21-51-7 in 2000-01. The Islanders have 31 points, and had lost eight straight before beating Anaheim 2-1 on Jan. 21 before the All-Star break.

Atlanta has taken advantage of its three games against the Islanders, outscoring them 13-6. The Thrashers were 12-17-1 with two ties versus New York before this season.

These teams last met Dec. 23, when Atlanta won 4-2. The Thrashers have scored at least four goals in each matchup with the Islanders this season.

Atlanta, though, couldn't give Kari Lehtonen any help offensively in a 2-0 loss to Dallas on Tuesday night.

The Thrashers were shut out for the fourth time this season and have dropped two straight since winning three in a row. They wasted a 31-save effort from Lehtonen.

NHL Free Pick: UNDER  View Game Matchup | Best Line: O/U 6 Sportsbook.com

Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes, 7:05PM ET

The Tampa Bay Lightning were considered a laughingstock earlier this season after a dismal start resulted in the firing of their first-year coach.

With a few more wins, they'll suddenly have to be regarded as a contender for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The surging Lightning will try to win a fourth straight game for the first time this season on Thursday in Raleigh, where the Carolina Hurricanes are hoping a return home helps solve their recent struggles.

Tampa Bay was 5-7-4 when it fired Barry Melrose on Nov. 14, just 16 games after coaxing him out of the broadcast booth and back behind the bench. They also lost 13 of their first 15 games under interim coach Rick Tocchet, falling to 7-16-9.

They've played much better since, going 10-6-1 including wins in six of their last eight games.

The Lightning (17-21-10) went into the All-Star break with wins over Dallas and Buffalo, then opened the second half with a 5-3 home victory over Montreal on Tuesday. Beating Carolina would give them their first four-game winning streak since November 2007.

NHL Free Pick: Edmonton View Game Matchup | Best Line: -150 Sportsbook.com

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Posted: 1/29/09 12:27PM ET

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