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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, April 5th (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (31-41-9) at Atlanta Thrashers (33-40-8), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will complete their season-ending road trip tonight with a test in Atlanta against the Thrashers at Philips Arena.

This test marks the final game of the season for these non-playoff teams.

The Lightning have dropped the first two tests of their current trek, getting outscored 10-3 in that span. Following Wednesday's 6-2 setback in Carolina, Tampa Bay was defeated by Washington, 4-1, on Thursday.

Filip Kuba scored the lone Tampa goal, with Jussi Jokinen and Martin St. Louis getting the assists. Karri Ramo allowed three goals on 39 shots in defeat.

Vincent Lecavalier, who leads the team with 40 goals and 92 points, left the loss in the third period with a shoulder injury after an open-ice hit by Matt Cooke in the third period. The Tampa Bay alternate captain did not have possession of the puck when he was checked and no penalty was called on the play.

He returned to Tampa for further testing and will not play tonight.

The Lightning have lost five straight and 11 of their last 12 on the road, where they are 11-23-6 this season. Tampa has just 71 points on the season, tied with the Kings for the fewest in the league.

Tampa Bay also has one fewer win than Los Angeles, giving it the inside track at having the best chance of landing the No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft.

Atlanta hasn't been much better this year, as it has just three more points on the season than the Lightning. The Thrashers have lost seven of their last nine games, including Tuesday's 3-2 setback against Florida.

Jordan LaValee-Smotherman scored his first career goal and also notched his first assist for the Thrashers. Mark Recchi also scored and Johan Hedberg finished the game with 30 saves.

Tonight will be the final chance for Ilya Kovalchuk to set a new career high in goals scored. He has 52 on the season, matching his personal-best total from the 2005-06 season.

Atlanta has lost three in a row at home and is 18-19-3 as the host this year.

The Thrashers are 5-2 against Tampa this season after dropping the first two meetings of the year. Atlanta has taken seven of the last 10 tests in this series and has won four straight and five of the last six encounters at Philips Arena.

04/05 10:47:11 ET


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