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NHL Game Summary - Tampa Bay at Atlanta



(Saturday, December 20th)

Final Score: Atlanta 4, Tampa Bay 3

Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Kari Lehtonen made his first appearance in almost two months and stopped 36 shots to help Atlanta to a 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay at Philips Arena.

Lehtonen hadn't played a game since October 30 as he has been battling a back injury.

"It ended up being a good game," Lehtonen said. "The start wasn't the way I wanted it, the first two shots went in. I didn't give up and kept going. It was good to get two points."

Joseph Crabb, Todd White, Eric Perrin and Slava Kozlov each had a goal for the Thrashers, who had lost four of five coming into the game.

Martin St. Louis scored twice and Adam Hall had a goal for the Lightning, who have lost three straight and 12 of 13 overall. Mike Smith was charged with all four goals on 30 shots.

"Embarrassing," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "(The) coaching staff is running out of answers. We roll up our sleeves and give them the information to play good. To see the way they played the first two periods was disheartening. I feel bad for our fans."

Atlanta got on the board just 18 seconds in as, after a left circle faceoff win, Kozlov backhanded the puck past Smith from inside right circle.

Tampa Bay, though, responded with two goals to take the lead.

On the power play, St. Louis' slap shot from the high slot found its way through a screen and past Lehtonen at the 3:54 mark of the first.

Later in the frame, Jussi Jokinen held off his checker as he skated behind the net and from the left side threw the puck across the goalmouth and Hall redirected the puck into the net at the 8:15 mark.

Atlanta, though, tied the game with 4:47 left in the first as Boris Valabik fired a one-timer from the high slot that was stopped by Smith, but Perrin was on the doorstep to put home the rebound.

The Thrashers then took a 3-2 lead on a nice play. Ilya Kovalchuk skated the puck to the left circle and flicked a pass to Bryan Little down low. Little immediately sent the puck to the front where White one-timed it home with 1:37 left in the first.

Neither side got on the board in the second period as Smith stopped all 13 shots thrown his way while Lehtonen made eight saves in the period.

Crabb netted an important insurance tally 4:06 into the final frame on his second goal of the season.

St. Louis got his second goal of the game much as he did the first, on the power play with a slap shot from the high slot that went through a screen and by Lehtonen with 2:32 left in the game.

Tampa pulled Smith from the net late in the game for the extra attacker, but were unable to net the equalizer.

Game Notes

Atlanta hosts Toronto on Monday...Tampa Bay plays in Pittsburgh on Tuesday...The Thrashers have taken seven of the last eight against Tampa Bay...Tampa went 2-for-6 on the power play while Atlanta went 1-for-4.

12/21 02:11:14 ET


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