NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at Tampa Bay
(Thursday, April 6th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 3, Atlanta 2 (SO)
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Brad Richards scored the decisive goal in the shootout to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers at St. Pete Times Forum.
Martin St. Louis and Ryan Craig each scored in regulation for the Lightning, who have won two straight and five of their last seven games overall. Sean Burke made 29 saves in the winning effort. The Lightning currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and trail the Montreal Canadiens, who beat Ottawa on Thursday, by two points for the seventh seed.
"We're just trying to get points," Lightning head coach John Tortorella said. "Obviously we wanted two and wanted to win in regulation, but you know the way we played the last two periods I think we're very fortunate to get two points."
Ilya Kovalchuk and Slava Kozlov each netted a goal for Atlanta, which is now six points behind Tampa Bay with six games to play in the regular season. Kari Lehtonen started in goal for Atlanta, but was injured during a collision with Chris Dingman in the first period and suffered a right ankle sprain. Mike Dunham replaced him with 3:28 to go in the first and ended with 12 saves.
In the first shootout round, Kozlov scored with a wrister from a sharp angle and Lecavalier answered with a nice deke move to the backhand. Next was Kovalchuk, who missed before Richards' forehand hit the left post and lit the lamp. Burke then made the final save on Marian Hossa and the Lightning skated off the victory.
"They [Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards] sure made some nice moves in the shootout," Dunham said. "They are two of the top players in the league, and I just couldn't find a way to strip either one of those."
The Lightning took a 1-0 lead at the 7:03 mark of the first period. Following a hooking minor to Atlanta forward Hossa, the Lightning went to work on the power play. As the penalty was winding down, Vinny Prospal took control along the rear boards. He stickhandled behind the net and slid a pass out to the goal mouth, where Craig redirected the puck into the back of the cage.
Kozlov's 24th goal of the season knotted the contest midway through the second frame. Skating on the power play for four minutes due to a high-sticking double minor to Pavel Kubina, the Thrashers fired from all angles on Burke.
Strong work along the left half-wall by Bobby Holik allowed him to maintain control of the puck and he passed back to the point for Kovalchuk. Drifting toward the centerpoint, Kovalchuk released a high wrist shot that was beautifully deflected in midair and into the net with 8:11 remaining.
With less than a minute to play before the second intermission, the Lightning grabbed a 2-1 lead with another power-play goal. Richards fired a wrist shot from the high slot, but missed the net high and wide. The puck, though, caromed off the rear boards and directly onto the stick of St. Louis, who stuffed it home from the right post at 19:11.
The Thrashers pulled Dunham with over one minute remaining in regulation and the move paid off with 3.6 seconds on the clock. The hosts failed to clear the zone up the right half-wall and the disc squirted out to the circle, where a one-timer by Kovalchuk past a screened Burke.
The Thrashers are gunning for their first-ever playoff berth...Kovalchuk now has five goals in his last four games...Atlanta will host Carolina on Saturday...Richards extended his consecutive point streak to 10 games...Tampa improved to 5-2 against the Thrashers this season...Lehtonen finished with 15 saves...The visitors were 1-for-4 on the power play, while the hosts finished 2-for-5 with the extra skater.
04/07 02:53:10 ET