Last 10: Tampa Bay (4-6-0); Atlanta (5-3-2)
Season Series: Tampa Bay will go for its fifth consecutive win over Atlanta in the final match of the season tonight, looking to cap a run that began with an overtime victory at Philips Arena on Nov. 22. After the Thrashers took the season opener from the Lightning, the Bolts took away two points on Dec. 26, Jan. 23 and Feb. 2.
|Feb 2, 2010||TBL@ATL||TBL, 2 - 1|
|Jan 23, 2010||ATL@TBL||TBL, 2 - 1|
|Dec 26, 2009||ATL@TBL||TBL, 4 - 3|
|Nov 22, 2009||TBL@ATL||TBL, 4 - 3|
|Oct 3, 2009||TBL@ATL||ATL, 6 - 3|
The Big Story: Atlanta comes into tonight just three points head of Tampa Bay for the final playoff spot, with a Lightning win capable of cutting the margin to just one. Seven out of the last 11 meetings between the Lightning and Thrashers have been decided by just one goal, with the Bolts outscoring Atlanta 20-18 in those games, while posting a record of 5-1-1. Steven Stamkos has been a big reason for that, coming into tonight with six points in five games against Atlanta this season and also tied for the league’s longest active point streak at 15 games. Antero Niittymaki has had success as well against the Southeast Division rivals, posting a career record of 16-0-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average.
LIGHTNING – This is the team’s last game at home before departing on a three-game road trip, which kicks off in Montreal on Tuesday. Tampa Bay is looking to snap a five-game winless streak and came close in its last game on Thursday versus the Capitals. Vincent Lecavalier scored twice, while Steven Stamkos and Steve Downie both extended career-high point streaks in a strong, third-period comeback effort that fell just short. Martin St. Louis recorded three helpers in the contest, with the last marking career assist number 400 for the Lightning winger.
THRASHERS – Atlanta heads into the St. Pete Times Forum tonight for a brief, one-game meeting with the Lightning before returning home for a two-game home stand, which begins tomorrow. The Thrashers are seeking their third consecutive win tonight, with the last coming on Thursday in a 6-3 win over the Islanders. Evgeny Artyukhin and Clarke MacArthur, both of which were acquired at Wednesday’s trade deadline, each scored a goal and Niclas Bergfors, who came over last month in the Ilya Kovalchuk deal, had two goals for Atlanta.
Who’s Hot: Steven Stamkos is tied with Evgeni Malkin for the league’s longest active point streak at 15 games, accumulating 13 goals and as many assists over that span. Steve Downie also comes in on a career-high nine-game point streak with five goals and seven assists. Martin St. Louis also has four assists in his last two games.
- Atlanta’s Maxim Afinogenov has amassed five points in his last three games and Rich Peverley has totaled three points in his last two.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – David Hale (lower body, placed on Injured Reserve), Matt Walker (lower body, day-to-day). THRASHERS – Boris Valabik (knee).
Quotable: “I thought we battled hard through a majority of the game. We stuck with the best team in the league, we tie it up and then the next shift they score. That's a killer. It breaks your back. It's just little mistakes, mental mistakes, that are leading to goals, and we are running out of time.” – Steven Stamkos, on the team’s last game and sense of urgency to make the playoffs.
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