Stephane Veilleux and Martin St. Louis took care of the first 20 minutes, and Antero Niittymaki handled it from there.
St. Louis scored for the fourth consecutive game and Niittymaki stopped 26 of 27 shots in the Lightning’s 2-1 victory over the Thrashers on Tuesday at Philips Arena.
Steven Stamkos extended his point streak to seven games with an assist.
Tampa Bay, winners in five of its last eight, climbed back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, while jumping Atlanta for positioning with its 57th point.
“The standings are so close that every game is like a playoff game for us, so we needed to come out with our best effort,” defenseman Mattias Ohlund said.
Niittymaki extended his career record against Atlanta to 16-0-0 and moved to 5-1-1 over his last six starts.
“One word: confidence. There are just certain buildings you like to play in and certain teams you like to play against,” Lightning goaltending coach Cap Raeder said of the Lightning net minder. “There’s no other explanation except the word confidence. It’s to the extreme. 16-0. That’s quite a number.”
Veilleux put Tampa Bay up 1-0 at the midway point in the opening period by firing a slap shot from the left circle above the glove of Atlanta net minder Ondrej Pavelec.
St. Louis extended the cushion just three minutes later with his 17th of the season at 12:43, sending a wide-angle shot into the net for a two-goal lead.
“It was a good play by everybody,” St. Louis said. “It was a good dump of the puck, we made our routes on the forecheck, and we were able to go where the puck was. Two good plays by Downie and Stammer [Stamkos] and I was able to put it in.”
Stamkos has four goals and 10 points during his seven-game point streak for the Lightning, who earned points in the standings for the fifth time in the team’s last six games.
Todd White put Atlanta’s first tally on the board while cutting the Lightning lead in half at 2:46 in the second with a deflection that bounced off the shoulder of Niittymaki before crossing the goal line.
“We sat back too much on our heels in the second period and they took over the game,” Ohlund said. “This game could have easily been tied up if it wasn’t for our great goaltending.”
Niittymaki improved to 11-0-0 all-time at Philips Arena, as the Lightning won their fourth in a row over the Thrashers.
Matt Walker nearly extended the Tampa Bay lead to 3-1 seven minutes into the third period, but his shot deflected off the post to keep it a one-goal game.
Tampa Bay’s 2-1 victory marked the seventh time out of the last 11 meetings between the two clubs that the final score has been decided by just one goal.
“We were very opportunistic in our chances,” St. Louis added.