The shootout proved fatal to the Lightning once again as they were shut out in three attempts while Slava Kozlov deked his way past Tampa Bay goaltender Karri Ramo to secure the 4-3 win for Atlanta tonight.
Tampa Bay was rarely on the ice at full strength in period one as they were saddled with four consecutive penalties which produced 5:34 in power play minutes for Atlanta, 56 seconds of which were with a two-man advantage.
Kozlov opened the scoring for Atlanta at 6:12 with a shot from the right wing boards above the faceoff circle that got past Ramo. Later in the period, the Thrashers would open the lead to 2-0 on a 5-on-3 power play goal by Todd White.
At the conclusion of period one, Tampa Bay had only 7 shots to Atlanta’s 19, 4 scoring chances to Atlanta’s 11, and had endured a ten minute stretch in the middle of the stanza where they did not put a shot on net. I t seemed a big hole to dig out of.
But dig out they did.
Behind two goals by Steven Stamkos, the Lightning came roaring back to tie the game, 2-2. Goal number one on the night, a tip-in of a shot from the right point by Lukas Krajicek, was goal number 17 on the season for Stamkos. The goal extended Stamkos’ consecutive game scoring streak to five and was also assisted by Martin St. Louis. St. Louis extended his scoring streak to eight games, the longest consecutive point streak for the Lightning this season.
Goal number two, on the power play followed just 82 seconds later when, in what is becoming typical for Stamkos, he overpowered Thrasher goaltender Johan Hedberg with a one-timer from the left faceoff circle. Matt Lashoff, who made the precision pass to set up the shot, and Vincent Lecavalier were credited with assists on the goal, number 18 on the season for Stamkos.
“It seems like the power play is really clicking right now,” Stamkos said, “We’re finally getting comfortable with each other.”
The game remained tied at 2-2 until Lightning forward Matt Pettinger was sent off the ice for hooking and Atlanta tallied their second power play goal of the night, at 12:52 of the second period; a blast from the right faceoff circle by Ilya Kovalchuk that cleanly beat Ramo and re-established the Thrasher lead, 3-2.
Before the period drew to a close, the Lightning fought back to tie the score once again when Vaclav Prospal scored on a power play at 15:35. The goal, Prospal’s 18th of the season, was the second goal with the extra man the Lightning would get, going 2 for 5 on the power play for the night. Lukas Krajicek earned his second assist of the game on the score, feeding Prospal in the slot after taking the puck end-to-end and swinging behind the Atlanta net.
In addition to scoring three goals, Tampa Bay produced a second period shot advantage of 12-3 over the Thrashers.
Neither team could do much with the final 20 minutes of hockey, and the five minute, four-on-four overtime failed to settle the matter also.
So, it fell to the shootout, and once again, the Lightning faltered, dropping their shootout record to 3-10 for the season. Stamkos, Lecavalier and St. Louis all were stopped by Hedberg while Kozlov scored to give Atlanta the win.
So Tampa Bay, by virtue of fighting back from a two goal deficit, earns a point for the shootout loss but the penalties in period one were they story of the game.
“We couldn’t get a chance to get into the game because of the penalties,” Lightning interim head coach Rick Tocchet said. “Trying to kill ten minutes of penalties is tough on any team.”