NHL Game Summary - Tampa Bay at Atlanta
(Tuesday, December 18th)
Final Score: Atlanta 6, Tampa Bay 2
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist as the Atlanta Thrashers downed the Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-2, in a Southeast Division battle at Philips Arena.
Steve McCarthy and Eric Perrin each had a pair of assists while Kari Lehtonen made 32 stops for the Thrashers, who snapped a four-game losing streak.
"We played hard all the way to the end of the game," said Lehtonen. "This is a good start, but it doesn't take away from losing four in a row. We have to build on this and focus on Thursday. I gave up some rebounds tonight that I'm not happy about, but our defensemen did a great job of getting the puck out. We played very well over all tonight."
Jason Ward and Vinny Prospal each scored a goal for the slumping Lightning, who have dropped three straight and five of six.
Johan Holmqvist started the game in net, but was pulled after 20 minutes of play as he gave up three goals on nine shots. Marc Denis finished the game in net and made 12 saves.
"Obviously it's not a good thing being down as much as we were after the first period," said Holmqvist. "We just have to learn from it and move on. There are a lot of games left in the season and it's a tight series. We just have to get ready for our next game."
The Thrashers controlled the first period and put three pucks in the net during the first frame.
Less than six minutes in, Garnett Exelby got the first goal of the frame as his shot from the high slot went through a screen and beat Holmqvist.
With under five minutes to play in the stanza, Mark Recchi took a feed at the low left circle, cut to the front of the net and knocked the puck between the pads of Holmqvist.
Just 2:23 later, Slava Kozlov poked the puck into the net as Holmqvist was trying to cover it up. Holmqvist was visibly angry after the goal as he threw his blocker into the net.
Atlanta took a 4-0 lead 5:20 into the second period as Chris Thorburn's shot from the low left circle squeezed between the pads of Marc Denis.
The Lightning got on the board with a shorthanded tally as Ward skated down the ice on a 2-on-1 break, opted to shoot and roofed the puck over Lehtonen with 5:34 left in the frame.
Kovalchuk made it a 5-1 game all on his own as he skated in on a breakaway and, with a Lightning player tugging at his jersey, calmly wristed it between the pads of Denis with 10:32 to play.
Tampa got a goal back with 7:18 to left as Prospal redirected a left point shot from Paul Ranger into the net.
Atlanta, though, responded on a 2-on-1 shorthanded play as Perrin sent a backhand pass from the right side of the net to the left side where Pascal Dupuis tapped it in with 4:40 to play.
Recchi has three goals in his four games since Atlanta acquired him...The Lightning host the Maple Leafs on Thursday...Atlanta hosts Ottawa on Thursday...Atlanta has taken three straight against Tampa Bay after dropping the first two matchups this season...Tampa Bay went 1-for-4 on the power play while Atlanta failed to score on its only chance...Tampa is just 3-12-1 on the road this season while Atlanta is 7-8-0 at home.
12/18 22:26:10 ET