Lightning (0-0-0) vs. Thrashers (1-0-0)
Season Series: This is the first of six meetings this season between Tampa Bay and Atlanta, and the 63rd overall in the history of the two franchises.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay enters tonight’s contest having won five straight games over its division rivals dating back to last season, after the Lightning posted a 5-1-0 record against the Thrashers following a 2009-10 season-opening loss. Tonight’s game at the St. Pete Times Forum also bodes well for Tampa Bay, as the Bolts have an all-time record of 20-8-1-2 against Atlanta in their home arena. Steve Yzerman and Guy Boucher also make their regular season debuts tonight as part of the Lightning’s new management team. Lightning prospect Dana Tyrell is set to make his NHL debut tonight.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays its season opener at home tonight before departing for a three-game road trip beginning Oct. 13 at Montreal. The team is looking to build off a successful preseason in which it went 4-1-1, a stretch that included gaining at least a point in consecutive games on two separate occasions. Following the exhibition campaign, the club had week to polish the details of Head Coach Guy Boucher’s system and finalize the opening roster, which will be on display tonight as the Lightning look to open the new season with a win.
THRASHERS – Atlanta plays its second game in as many nights this evening after opening its season at home with a 4-2 win against the division rival Capitals. The Thrashers received two goals from Evander Kane and also got scores from newcomers Andrew Ladd and Fredrik Modin. The Thrashers will play tonight’s game without goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who underwent a scary moment in last night’s opener when he inexplicably fell backwards and collapsed on the ice during a stoppage in play. Chris Mason, in his Thrashers debut, went on to stop 29 of 31 shots in the win.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Simon Gagne and Martin St. Louis each ranked atop the league’s preseason point leaders and look to carry the scoring momentum into tonight. Atlanta’s Evander Kane is proving he is one of the league’s emerging top forwards after scoring twice against Washington and seeks to repeat the performance for a second straight night.
Quotable: “It really hasn't set in yet. I'm just taking it one day at a time here and hopefully I can play on Saturday and get into the lineup. That's all I can worry about.” – Lightning prospect Dana Tyrell, who will make his NHL debut tonight
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