ATLANTA – Closing out their third game in four nights, the Tampa Bay Lightning traveled to face the division rival Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday. Mathieu Darche scored the lone Tampa Bay goal as the club dropped their season finale, 4-1.
Colby Armstrong scored the game-winning goal and added one assist the lift Atlanta in the contest. The Lightning fired 31 shots on goal, but Kari Lehtonen stood tall between the pipes for the Thrashers.
A little more than three and a half minutes into the first period Tampa Bay posted the first shot of the night. Following a dump-in, Lehtonen looked to clear the puck, but Filip Kuba intercepted the attempt. Kuba slapped the shot from the right point, but Lehtonen came up with the glove save.
Shortly after the play, Bobby Holik opened the scoring with his 15th goal of the season. Alone at the left wing circle, Holik snapped a shot off a pass by Ilya Kovalchuk to beat MikeSmith to the five hole.
Looking to tie the game at one, Martin St. Louis fed the puck from the goal line to Jeff Halpern at the right side boards. Halpern fired a wrist shot, but Lehtonen got across his crease to cover the puck.
Halpern and Dan Boyle each followed up with a pair of shots from the right wing side, but Lehtonen made pad saves to deny the attempts.
At the opposite end of the ice, Smith responded with a glove save as the Thrashers skated with the man-advantage. As Kovalchuk snapped a wrist shot from the right circle, Smith squared to the shot to grab the puck and keep the 52-goal scorer off the board.
Opening the second period, Michel Ouellet fed a pass across the blue line to Jussi Jokinen. The Lightning winger slapped a shot from the point but was held off by a blocker save.
Moments later, as Tampa Bay skated on the power play, Kuba slapped a one-timed shot from the left point off a pass by Boyle. Halpern tried to connect on a tip in front of the net, but Lehtonen dropped to cover.
Midway through the man-advantage, at 3:50 of the period, Darche connected for his seventh goal of the season.
Early in the power play St. Louis got a shot off at the left side of the crease after Kuba backhanded a pass to the front of the net. After the club cycled the puck through the zone, Kuba followed up with a shot from the right faceoff circle. As Darche created a screen in front of the net, the Lightning winger tipped the shot to the five hole.
Seconds later Mark Recchi sent a shot off the right post before Mark Popovic put a wrister on goal. Smith made a pad save to deny the Thrashers.
On a second Lightning power play deeper into the period, Jokinen fed Boyle for a slapshot at the point. Sending the puck through traffic, Boyle was held off by Lehtonen. Ouellet tried to connect on the rebound at the right of the net, but was unable to get the shot off.
Shortly after, Kovalchuk turned over a clearing attempt in the Thrashers zone before firing a shot from the slot. Smith made the initial save before getting across his crease to prevent Chris Thorburn from following up on a rebound attempt at the side of the net.
Early in the final frame Smith made a similar save as Atlanta skated with the power play. Recchi sent the puck to Bryan Little at the goal mouth from the right corner. Open in front of the crease, Little grabbed the puck out of the air and dropped it to the ice for a shot. Smith slid across the goal line to block the attempt.
Despite the save, and stopping 10 shots during the third period, Smith was unable to block Armstrong on what went on to be the game-winning goal.
After Popovic slapped an initial shot off the right side boards, the rebound bounced to the side of the crease. Armstrong collected the puck and carried it behind the net before reaching out for the wrap-around. The Atlanta winger backhanded a shot that tipped over Smith’s extended left leg.
With the game coming to a close and the Lightning looking to tie the score, St. Louis skated down the left wing with Halpern. Tapping the puck ahead on a give-and-go play at the left circle, St. Louis sent Halpern deep into the zone. Halpern cut to the net to tip a shot, but Lehtonen held on to the attempt.
With less than one minute remaining in regulation, Jim Slater picked the puck off the right side boards. Skating down the wing and fighting off a Lightning defender, Slater cut to the front of the goal to score on the empty net.
Less than half a minute later, Recchi helped to close out the scoring when he backhanded a pass across the zone. Skating to the edge of the circle, Little converted the pass by putting a shot behind Smith as he stretched across his crease.
Tampa Bay out-shot Atlanta, 31-24, in the contest, but was unable to force the late comeback. Boyle and Halpern led all skaters with five shots each.
Scoring once on the power play, the Lightning held the Thrashers scoreless through three man-advantage opportunities.
As the teams faced off for the eighth and final time this season, Tampa Bay closed out their 2007-08 regular season schedule.
Stay tuned to TampaBayLightning.com for news and updates on the Lightning during the summer, including information on the upcoming NHL Entry Draft starting Monday with live streaming video of the Draft Lottery, updates on the 2008-09 season-opener in Czech Republic versus the New York Rangers, exclusive Lightning TV updates and more.
1 - 0 ATL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 ATL
3 - 1 ATL
4 - 1 ATL