ATLANTA – Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis extended their point-scoring streaks to eight games on Monday night, but it wasn’t enough to hold off a 4-3 Atlanta Thrashers overtime victory. Posting their first loss in their previous six games, the Lightning dropped their first of four scheduled meetings at Atlanta this season.
With one goal and one assist in the game, Lecavalier recorded his eighth consecutive multi-point contest. Named the NHL’s First Star for the second consecutive week, Lecavalier notched his 21st point (seven goals, 14 assists) since a November 3 match-up against the Thrashers. Lecavalier extended his league-lead to 34 points, including 14 goals, through 20 games this season.
Matching Lecavalier’s two-point effort, Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk posted his league-leading 17th goal to tie the contest late in the third period before adding an assist on the overtime winner.
Recording his first goal of the season, Brad Larsen got the Thrashers on the board 3:13 into the game. After Pascal Dupuis passed the puck out of the deep left corner, Larsen fired a low one-timed shot from the left hash marks past Johan Holmqvist for the score.
The line of Jan Hlavac, Brad Richards and Michel Ouellet put pressure on the Thrashers and goaltender Johan Hedberg late in the first period and early in the second as the Lightning looked to tie the game at one.
With six seconds remaining in the opening frame, Richard fed a pass through the slot to Hlavac for a quick shot from the right has marks. Early in the middle period Richards saw a wrist shot ring off the cross bar before Hlavac was denied by a Hedberg glove save at the side of the net.
Despite the saves, Tampa Bay scored twice in a span of 38 seconds to tie the game and take the lead. The Richards line broke Hedberg’s shutout bid before Lecavalier added his team-leading 14th goal of the season with less than six minutes remaining in the second.
At the 13:55 mark of the frame, Hlavac fought Bobby Holik for position in the crease to score his fourth goal of the season. After Ouellet threw the puck to the front of the net from below the goal line, Hlavac banged a shot to the right of Hedberg for his second goal in consecutive games.
Less than a minute later Lecavalier converted a Filip Kuba slap shot to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead. After Kuba’s shot from the point bounced off Niclas Havelid at the top of the crease, Lecavalier back-handed a shot to the short side of Hedberg.
With the shots tied at 16 after the first 40 minutes of play, the Lightning went on to build a two-goal lead midway through the final period. Picking up his second assist of the night, Vaclav Prospal skated wide of the net before passing the puck back to St. Louis at the bottom of the left faceoff circle. As Hedberg cheated to the left side of his crease St. Louis one-timed a shot into the back of the net.
Scoring his eighth goal of the season St. Louis extended his current scoring streak to eight games. The Lightning winger has recorded six goals and 15 points in that stretch.
The recently surging Thrashers used the power play to their advantage late in the game, however, scoring twice in the remaining 5:18 to tie the contest at three. Bryan Little connected on a 5-on-3 man-advantage opportunity before Kovalchuk tied the game less than three minutes later.
Converting a goalmouth pass by Marian Hossa, Little scored his third goal of the season to bring Atlanta within one. Shortly after the goal Hossa left a pass for Kovalchuk at the front of the net where the Thrashers winger banged a shot past Holmqvist to send the game into overtime.
Playing with a 4-on-3 advantage Atlanta posted their second power play marker of the night midway through overtime. After carrying the puck down the left wing Todd White scored his fifth goal of the season on a wrist shot.
Although Tampa Bay has not lost in regulation since a November 5 match-up against the Florida Panthers, the decision marked the first Lightning loss in six games. During the five-game winning streak the Lightning held their opponents to two or less goals while scoring five or more times in four of the contests. Tampa Bay out-scored their opponents 24-7 in the stretch.
Holmqvist posted all decisions for the Lightning during the winning streak, tying his career high of five consecutive wins. The Tampa Bay netminder posted a 1.40 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage while stopping 141 of 148 shots in that span.
With a combined five points (two goals, three assists) in the contest, the line of St. Louis, Lecavalier and Prospal extended their lead as the highest scoring trio in the league. The three players have posted 32 goals and 79 points through the first 20 games of the season. Each skater ranked among the top 20 scorers in the NHL going into the contest.
Through their first four games the Lightning and Thrashers have split the season series with two wins each. Four more meetings remain between the teams, including three at Atlanta.
Tampa Bay returns to the St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday, November 21 (7:30p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) for their second of four meetings against the New York Rangers. The Lightning will play one game at home before returning to Atlanta on Friday night.