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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, March 31st (All times eastern)

Atlanta Thrashers (32-39-8) at Tampa Bay Lightning (31-38-9), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - With both teams eliminated from the playoff picture, the Thrashers and Lightning will battle for pride tonight, as Atlanta visits Tampa Bay at St. Pete Times Forum.

The Lightning are last in the Eastern Conference with 71 points and Atlanta is just one point ahead in 14th place.

The Thrashers are 4-2 against Tampa this season and have won each of the last four meetings. Atlanta has taken six of nine against the Lightning, but has also lost in seven of its previous 10 trips to the Forum.

The clubs will complete the season series and their 2007-08 campaigns Saturday in Atlanta.

Atlanta has had a horrific end to its season, as the club has dropped six of seven, eight of 10 and 16 of its last 19 games.

The Thrashers haven't played since Friday, when they were destroyed by the Hurricanes in Raleigh. Tuomo Ruutu and Jeff Hamilton each scored twice, Eric Staal had a goal and two assists and Carolina pummeled Atlanta, 7-1, at RBC Center. The Hurricanes finished the night with five power-play goals, tying a franchise record.

Jim Slater lit the lamp and Johan Hedberg allowed all seven goals on 35 shots faced for the Thrashers.

Tonight's test is the final road game of the season for Atlanta, which is just 14-21-5 as the visiting team. The Thrashers, who are completing a three-game road trip tonight, have lost 11 of 12 and 14 of their last 17 games as the away team.

The Lightning, meanwhile, have won two of their last three games, but still have a dismal 6-11-3 record in their last 20 contests.

Tampa Bay placed itself between Carolina and the Southeast Division title on Saturday, and the Lightning notched a 2-1 win in regulation. Karri Ramo made 38 saves, including a circus catch with his glove in the final seconds, to help the Lightning secure the close home victory at the Forum.

Jussi Jokinen had a goal and an assist and Jeff Halpern also tallied for the Lightning.

Tampa Bay took the lead on Halpern's goal with 14:17 left in the third and after that the Lightning killed off three Carolina power plays, the last of which started with 2:10 left.

Carolina applied heavy pressure on the Tampa Bay end, and kept the puck in its offensive zone as the final power play ran out. A shot from the right side of the ice, with just seconds remaining, was deflected and sent in a high arc toward the net. Ramo decided to leap in the air for the puck, trying to grab it with his mitt. Despite a crowd of players in front of him, he caught it, and fell to the ice with 0.7 showing. One short faceoff later, the Lightning secured the win.

Tonight's game is Tampa's last home contest of the season and also wraps up a four-game homestand. The Lightning are 20-17-3 as the host this year and have taken four of five and five of their last seven home tests.

03/31 10:19:24 ET


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