Lightning Close Season in Atlanta
Stamkos Collects 23rd Goal in Loss
The Tampa Bay Lightning closed the book on the 2008-2009 season with a loss to the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena tonight, 6-2.
It wasn’t very pretty and, after the first period, it wasn’t very close, but both of these non-playoff teams managed to create some highlights. Chief among those was a third period goal by Steven Stamkos
, who added to his franchise record for goals scored by a rookie when he beat Thrasher goalie Kari Lehtonen for goal number 23 on the season.
The first period was a wild one, with the referees handing out 44 minutes in penalties, 30 minutes of which were fighting majors. Zenon Konopka, Evengy Artyukhin and Matt Pettinger were the combatants for the Lightning.
Atlanta opened the scoring while Pettinger was in the penalty box for holding the stick. The power play goal by Colby Armstrong, his first of two goals on the night, came off a deflection in front of Tampa Bay netminder Mike McKenna at 7:10.
Later in period one, while the Lightning were skating with the man advantage, former Bolt Eric Perrin worked a shorthanded 2-on-1 and finished the play by beating McKenna to stretch the Thrasher lead to two goals.
But Tampa Bay, still skating on the same power play, got their first goal of the night just 47 seconds later, as Matt Pettinger collected his eighth goal of the season. Jeff Halpern and Kevin Quick
assisted on the score and for Quick, the assist was his first-ever NHL point.
A close game fell apart for the Lightning near the middle of the second period when Thrasher forward Ilya Kovalchuk took a cross-ice pass to McKenna’s right and blitzed the puck over the goaltender’s glove. For Kovalchuk, the goal was number 43 on the season.
Ron Hainsey collected Atlanta’s next goal at 14:09 when his shot from the high slot got by McKenna. That goal, which made the score 4-1, ended McKenna’s work for the night as Lightning interim coach Rick Tocchet sent in Karri Ramo for mop-up duty. McKenna left after allowing four goals on 15 shots.
Ramo’s welcome to the game was a rude one, however, as Victor Kozlov’s shot hit Armstong in the back and deflected past Ramo and into the Lightning net at 16:32.
Stamkos’ goal early in the third period cut the Thrasher lead to 5-2, but Colin Stuart got the score back for Atlanta at 6:20 when he converted a cross-ice pass from Marty Reasoner to close out the scoring for the evening.
The Lightning finished with more shots on net than Atlanta, 35-26, including six shots by Stamkos to lead the team in that category.
Overall, Martin St. Louis
took the team scoring crown with 80 points and 30 goals, one more goal than injured captain Vincent Lecavalier
had for the year.
Tampa Bay finishes the season at 24-40-18 with 66 points.
So for the Lightning players, it’s time to scatter, unwind a bit, and get on with what will be a rigorous off-season conditioning program. It certainly isn’t what any of them hoped would be next on the agenda.
For the fans, however, as they used to say in Brooklyn: “Wait till next year.”