NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at Tampa Bay
(Saturday, April 3rd)
Final Score: Atlanta 2, Tampa Bay 1
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Shawn McEachern and Ilya Kovalchuk scored third period goals, lifting the Atlanta Thrashers over the playoff-bound Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1, at St. Pete Times Forum.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 29 shots for Atlanta, which snapped a two-game losing streak to end its season. Patrik Stefan had two assists in the victory.
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 21 shots for Tampa Bay, which lost for only the second time in its last six contests (4-1-0-1). Martin St. Louis scored his 38th of the season off a feed from Brad Richards in the setback.
Tampa Bay has already locked up the top spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Lightning were looking to head into the postseason on a high note after Thursday's 4-3 triumph over the Florida Panthers, but really never mustered any scoring opportunities.
"It obviously wasn't the result we wanted, but it was a good effort, "said Tampa Bay winger Chris Dingman. "The season's over, now the real season begins."
Down 1-0 heading into the third stanza, Atlanta would take the lead on two unanswered goals by Kovalchuk and McEachern to forge ahead 2-1.
Kovalchuk's 41st goal of the season knotted up the contest early in the third. He took a feed from Stefan and found himself all alone on a breakaway. The winger's quick snap shot beat Khabibulin five hole, making it 1-1 at the 4:10 mark.
McEachern's go-ahead goal gave Atlanta the lead for good less than three minutes later. His low blast from inside the left point beat Khabibulin high stick-side, making it a 2-1 contest with 12:56 remaining.
Vincent Lecavalier had a chance to give the Lighting the early lead with a penalty shot opportunity at 12:35 of the second period. However, his attempt to go high on Lehtonen's stick side was off the mark and the game remained scoreless.
Less than two minutes later, Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead on St. Louis' shorthanded goal.
"I think they are happy its over with (the regular season), "said Lightning head coach John Tortorella. "For the past six or seven games you keep pouding on them to stay ready."
Richards skated down the right boards and into the right face off circle, slipping a cross-ice pass into the slot to St. Louis. The winger then one- timed a quick shot, beating Kari Lehtonen high to the glove side at 4:42 of the second.
Tampa Bay had 11 shots in the first period...Richards has 53 assists...St. Louis' 38 goals leads the club...Tampa Bay came into the contest averaging 5.2 goals per contest in its last five games...Atlanta was 0-for-5 on the power play, while Tampa Bay finished 0-for-3 with the man advantage...Atlanta won the season series 3-2-0-1.
04/03 22:45:32 ET