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Tampa Bay Lightning
Atlanta
Thrashers
35-34-13
Tampa Bay
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34-36-12
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38 SOG
26 SOG
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game recap

Lightning 2, Thrashers 1

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:48 AM

Peter Pupello - Lightning Beat Reporter

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Lightning 2, Thrashers 1
Atlanta Thrashers 1, Tampa Bay Lightning 2

Antero Niittymaki knows the Atlanta Thrashers all too well.

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Teammate Jeff Halpern, on the other hand, got the best of an unfamiliar foe.

Niittymaki extended his career record against Atlanta to 15-0-0, stopping 37 of 38 shots, and Halpern scored the lone goal in the fifth round of the shootout to give the Lightning a 2-1 victory over their Southeast division rivals on Saturday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Halpern, who entered the contest 0-for-3 in his career in the shootout, skated through the slot before firing a wrist shot past Thrashers goaltender Johan Hedberg.

Niittymaki took over from there, stoning Atlanta’s final shooter in Todd White to seal the win.

“Every time we play them, I feel lucky to win those games,” Niittymaki said. “Sometimes we’re able to win some decent games, a couple of shootouts, but I don’t know, I don’t really focus on that. These two points for us were pretty big for us anyways, it doesn’t matter who we play against.”

Tampa Bay, who played its second straight game in extra time, has gone 6-1-1 in their last eight at home.

Atlanta, meanwhile, posts a 2-10-3 record away from home in its last 15 games and prolonged its power play slump, where they are 5-for-66 in the last 16 matches.

“We had control of the game pretty much the whole way,” Atlanta head coach John Anderson said. “I thought we carried the play to them and just couldn’t score. The power play didn’t score again, and that’s a bit of a sore spot with me right now, but we can’t change that right now.”

The victory tied Tampa Bay, winners in three out of its last four, with Atlanta in the Eastern Conference standings at 52 points and just three spots out of the final playoff spot.

Steven Stamkos scored for the second time in as many nights, this time on the power play, tying the game just three minutes after Atlanta’s Nik Antropov opened scoring at 5:23 for an early 1-0 lead.

The mark with the man advantage moved him into a tie for second place in the NHL with 10 power play goals this season. Stamkos also moved into a first-place tie among players with the most power play points, joining Martin St. Louis with 24.

Niittymaki made 28 consecutive saves following the game’s opening goal and the Lightning’s penalty kill unit eliminated all five opposing power play chances on the night, including one with just over a minute to play in overtime, to force the contest into the shootout.

“They had like two or three chances to win it coming down in Niitty’s [Niittymaki] end. Him keeping us in there gave us life,” Halpern said.

Kurtis Foster, who tallied an assist earlier in the game, appeared to have clinched the win for Tampa Bay when his attempt in the fourth round of the shootout trickled into the goal after he was tripped up on a poke check by Hedberg. After video review, however, it was determined that the puck deflected off of the skater’s shin pad, negating the goal.

Halpern converted the next opportunity though, earning the Bolts their second shootout win of the season.

“The wins are all big. There are 30 games left and I think it’s crunch time,” Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet said. “We’ve got to put a string together to get to the next dance. This was a game where we kind of stole two points, but Niittymaki was great for us and it was an excellent goal by Halpy [Jeff Halpern]. A great, great goal by him to win the game for us.”

scoring summary
1st Period
05:23
ATL
Nik Antropov (13) ASST: Bryan Little (14), Pavel Kubina (21)
1 - 0 ATL
07:28
TBL
PPG - Steven Stamkos (27) ASST: Kurtis Foster (15), Ryan Malone (20)
1 - 1 Tie
2nd Period
NONE
3rd Period
NONE
OT Period
NONE
Shootout
RNDTBLATL
1S. StamkosM. Afinogenov
2S. DownieI. Kovalchuk
3V. LecavalierB. Little
4K. FosterR. Peverley
5J. HalpernT. White
penalty summary
1st Period
05:28
TBL
Zenon Konopka  Fighting (maj) against  Boris Valabik
05:28
ATL
Boris Valabik  Fighting (maj) against  Zenon Konopka
06:01
ATL
Colby Armstrong  Roughing against  Steve Downie
06:01
TBL
Steve Downie  Roughing against  Colby Armstrong
06:55
ATL
Pavel Kubina  Interference against  Martin St. Louis
10:09
TBL
Matt Walker  Cross checking against  Eric Boulton
11:08
TBL
Nate Thompson  Roughing against  Nik Antropov
11:08
ATL
Nik Antropov  Roughing against  Nate Thompson
2nd Period
14:25
TBL
Steve Downie  Interference against  Evander Kane
18:32
ATL
Eric Boulton  Fighting (maj) against  Matt Walker
18:32
TBL
Matt Walker  Fighting (maj) against  Eric Boulton
19:33
TBL
Ryan Malone  Cross checking against  Maxim Afinogenov
3rd Period
02:57
TBL
Steven Stamkos  Hooking against  Chris Thorburn
05:22
TBL
Mike Lundin  Slashing against  Evander Kane
08:13
ATL
Marty Reasoner  Tripping against  Martin St. Louis
12:38
ATL
Toby Enstrom  Hooking against  Ryan Malone
OT Period
02:03
ATL
Pavel Kubina  Tripping against  Martin St. Louis
03:51
TBL
Alex Tanguay  Interference against  Rich Peverley
goalie stats
Johan Hedberg
Johan Hedberg
10-8-4
SA: 26TOI: 64:54
Saves: 25EV: 20 - 20
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 3
SV%: .962SH: 3 - 3
Antero Niittymaki
SA: 38TOI: 64:52
Saves: 37EV: 28 - 29
PIM: 0PP: 8 - 8
SV%: .974SH: 1 - 1