Welcome to the NHL, Head Coach Guy Boucher.
Listen to Coach Boucher's description of the Lightning's latest salute to fans after their 5-3 home win on opening night against the Thrashers.
Boucher, who was hired over the summer to lead the Lightning back to Stanley Cup contention, came one step closer to achieving that goal on Saturday as he earned his first career NHL win, a 5-3 season-opening victory against the division rival Thrashers.
Tampa Bay moved to 10-6-2 all-time in season openers, while also claiming its sixth consecutive victory over the Thrashers dating back to last season.
“We are obviously proud of the win in front of the home fans tonight,” Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said. “It was a good way to start our season.”
Stamkos, despite a six-month offseason hiatus, displayed the same form that earned him the league’s goal-scoring title at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season. The reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner had two goals, and Vincent Lecavalier and Steve Downie also scored for the Lightning.
Dominic Moore also had a goal in his regular season Lightning debut.
Atlanta rallied from a four-goal deficit, scoring three times beginning with Tobias Enstrom’s first of the season at 16:31 in the second period. The 5-on-3 power play goal spoiled Mike Smith’s shutout, but the Lightning net minder still went on to stop 27 of 30 shots and earn the win.
Atlanta, who played its second game in as many nights, also got goals from Chris Thorburn and Ben Eager.
Stamkos capped a scoring flurry that resulted in four consecutive goals to open the contest with his second of the night in the third period.
Downie opened the contest 1-0 on the power play after corralling a Brett Clark slap shot in front of the crease and wristing one over Mason at 5:23.
Moore increased the lead just 2:58 later, finding a loose puck out in front and sending into the back of the net.
After Lecavalier and Stamkos each struck three minutes apart, including once with the man advantage, to open the second period, costly penalties allowed Atlanta to mount a comeback.
After Enstrom cut the deficit to three, Eager scored unassisted at 18:12 of the second period and Thorburn brought the Thrashers within one with a wrist shot past Smith at 7:41 in the third.
“Not the way we would have liked the game to progress in the second period,” Boucher said. “I think we were doing outstanding before we started taking penalties and I don’t think we managed the game well in the second period. It gave them life and we paid for it.”
Nevertheless, Stamkos scored the insurance goal at 10:59 in the final frame and Tampa Bay’s defense held Atlanta to only seven total shots in the period, ensuring Boucher his first NHL victory as well as two points to start the season.
“We felt great,” Stamkos said. “Guys were buzzing, and even though we collapsed in the second period and a little bit in the third, we still found a way to get a big win tonight.”
tampabaylightning.com is the official Web site of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay Lightning and tampabaylightning.com are trademarks of Lightning Hockey L.P. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 Lightning Hockey, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.