Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay
Lightning
46-22-8-6
Atlanta
Thrashers
33-37-8-4

35 SOG
24 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
TBL
ATL
game preview

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Atlanta Thrashers

Friday, 12.26.2003 / 7:30 PM

Associated Press

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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Atlanta Thrashers
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Atlanta Thrashers
Lightning-Thrashers Preview

GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (14-11-5-1) at Atlanta Thrashers (18-14-3-1).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Vincent Lecavalier angered his coach during the last game, and was benched.

Lecavalier now hopes to get more ice time when the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning visit the first-place Atlanta Thrashers.

Lecavalier, who has just 19 points this season, was benched during the second period of Tuesday's 1-1 tie in Boston after failing to comply with coach John Tortorella's shoot-early-and-often mandate.

The Lightning have scored just 72 goals in 31 games, ahead of only lowly Carolina (61) and Pittsburgh (70) in the Eastern Conference.

Against Boston, Lecavalier did not shoot the puck during an early three-on-two and was punished for it.

"An awful call," Lecavalier said of Tortorella's decision. "Offensively, I go with my instincts. If I think the play is to make a play, that's what I do. It didn't work out. I'm just going to keep playing hard. If I get benched for it, that's fine."

Tortorella saw it a different way.

"Interesting. It wasn't the proper call?" he said. "Let's forget about the backhanded turnover. Let's talk about trying to play hard. He's got to start playing in the team concept. I don't care who he is or who he thinks he is."

The Lightning have forgotten who they are since their 11-2-2-1 start, winning just three of their last 15 (3-9-3) dating to a three-game winning streak from Nov. 14-22.

Despite getting shut out three straight games earlier this month, the Thrashers have been among the league's best at putting the puck in the net, sitting second only to Detroit (124) in the NHL with 109.

Since getting outscored a combined 12-0 in losses to the New York Islanders, Washington and New Jersey, the Thrashers have netted 11 goals in wins over Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

In Sunday's 4-1 victory over the Flyers, Ronald Petrovicky scored twice, Ilya Kovalchuk added his 21st goal and Slava Kozlov also scored for the Thrashers.

"We've had a good first half of the season, but we can't hang our hat on that," goaltender Byron Dafoe said. "Points are harder to get in the second half."

2003-2004 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 03 '04ATL 2 at TBL 1S. McEachern
Feb 25 '04TBL 4 at ATL 2V. Lecavalier
Jan 31 '04ATL 2 at TBL 5D. Andreychuk
Dec 26 '03TBL 1 at ATL 3J. Vigier
Nov 29 '03TBL 1 at ATL 2J. Vigier
Oct 21 '03ATL 2 at TBL 3 - OTP. Kubina
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