NHL Game Summary - Tampa Bay at Atlanta
(Saturday, April 5th)
Final Score: Atlanta 4, Tampa Bay 1
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Kari Lehtonen made 30 saves and Colby Armstrong scored the game-winner as the Atlanta Thrashers bested the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1 in the season finale for both teams.
Armstrong's goal at the 15:51 mark of the third period sparked a three-goal barrage in less than four minutes for the Thrashers, who ended the season with two wins in three games.
Bobby Holik and Jim Slater each tallied, while Eric Perrin logged two assists.
Mathieu Darche netted Tampa's only goal, and Mike Smith allowed three goals on 23 shots. The Lightning finished the season with five losses in six games and ended with 71 points, tying the Los Angeles Kings for the fewest in the league.
"When we missed the playoffs before, there were no expectations," Tampa veteran Martin St. Louis said. "We were young. This year there were expectations. We're better than that. For some reason we just couldn't put it all together at once."
On the deciding score, a Garnet Exelby shot from the point went wide and behind the net. Smith was caught out of position trying to play the puck, and Armstrong's stuffer snuck through.
The Lightning had several chances to knot the score again. In their best opportunity, Kuba powered a shot that trickled past Lehtonen, but defenseman Steve McCarthy made a diving poke check to stop the puck from going over the goal line to preserve the lead.
"The guys played well in front of me tonight," Lehtonen said.
Tampa pulled Smith for the extra attacker with two minutes left, but Slater hustled his way to a loose puck and pounded home an empty-netter for a 3-1 cushion with under a minute left.
Bryan Little slammed in the last goal with 27 seconds remaining and the Atlanta faithful went home happy.
Atlanta netted the first goal of the game at the 5:48 mark of the first period. At the blue line, five players converged on a loose puck at the boards and the disc squirted free into the slot. Holik trailed the scrum and found himself one-on-one against Smith, and the forward won the battle with a wrister.
The Lightning got on the board with a power play goal in the early goings of the second frame. Dan Boyle and Filip Kuba swung the puck around to the left- hander between the goal line and circle in the right corner, and Darche's low wrister snuck past Lehtonen to tie the score at 3:50.
The Lightning kept the pressure on, but Lehtonen, who faced 14 shots in the period, kept it a tie game after two.
Tampa Bay's leading scorer, Vincent Lecavalier (92 points), did not play in the season finale (shoulder)...Tampa Bay finished the season 11-24-6 on the road...Atlanta finished 19-19-3 at home...The Thrashers finished 6-2 against the Lightning this season, winning the last six matchups...Atlanta forward Ilya Kovalchuk did not score, but his 52 goals this season matched a career- high...The Lighting were 1-for-2 on the power play, while Atlanta failed to score on its three chances.
04/05 22:15:31 ET