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|TBL||0||1||0||0||1 (1 - 4)||2|
Victor Hedman made the most of his first career shootout opportunity.
Hedman displayed quick hands, sent a wrist shot past the glove of net minder Ondrej Pavelec in the tiebreaker’s fourth round, and earned the Tampa Bay Lightning its second straight win with a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers Wednesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
After Pavelec stopped the first three Lightning shooters, all forwards, Head Coach Guy Boucher sent the defenseman out to finish the job. Boy, did he deliver.
“The last game we had a shootout, and he was just looking at me with those eyes,” Boucher said. “I always choose those guys because they have a tendency to be scared. Whoever they are, and when guys look at you like that, they want it.”
Despite being outshot through the first two periods and taking an early 1-0 lead on a first-period shorthanded goal by Rich Peverley, the Thrashers had to settle for a point, tying them with Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division standings.
The win helped the Lightning set a franchise-best record with 38 points through the first 31 games to open a season.
Sean Bergenheim had the lone goal for the Lightning in regulation. He tied it up with under six minutes remaining in the second period after skating in one-on-one against Pavelec and crossing over to the forehand to lift a shot into the top corner of the net.
Mike Smith made his first start in goal since Dec. 2 and stopped 27 of 28 shots for Tampa Bay, who now has points in five straight contests at home.
“He was great,” Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said. “He made some big saves tonight. It was a really tight game, but he really kept us in there. It was a good win for his confidence, and I believe things like that carry over.”
Lecavalier returned to action for the first time since injuring his hand on Nov. 11 at Washington. He registered four shots on goal and a plus-one rating.
“It was kind of a last minute thing,” Lecavalier said. “I felt good this morning, I felt good yesterday, so we decided to try it tonight. It felt really good to get a hop back in my skating and get so many opportunities with my line.”
Tampa Bay won for the first time in a shootout in three tries this season. It dropped the previous two on Nov. 27 versus Florida and again last week in Edmonton on Dec. 10.
Atlanta lost for just the second time in its last six. Pavelec finished with 30 saves.
“It’s nice to get a point against them,” Peverley said. “That’s the positive we’ll take away from this game, but it would have been nice to capitalize on some opportunities.”
Atlanta’s fourth-ranked power play came in just one spot behind Tampa Bay’s in the league rankings, but failed to convert five opportunities on the night.
“Our power play has helped us out a lot this season,” Thrashers Head Coach Craig Ramsay said. “We had some good looks, some good set-ups, but I think we just tried to force it a little bit. I think we’re a lot better when we just get shots to the net and bang in some rebounds.”
Steven Stamkos failed to register a point in the game for the first time in the previous 12 meetings against the Thrashers, snapping the NHL’s longest-active point streak by one player against an opponent at 11 games. Stamkos has 12 goals and 21 points in 15 career games against Atlanta.
It didn’t seem to bother Tampa Bay, who won for the eighth consecutive time over Atlanta and for the fifth straight time in its home arena. The Thrashers last won against the Lightning on Oct. 3, 2009 at Philips Arena.
“It was a big win for the team and obviously a big win for myself,” Smith said. “I was happy I could shut the door on the shootout for these guys. They battle hard every night and they deserve it.”
|Zach Bogosian Hooking against Teddy Purcell|
|Teddy Purcell Too many men/ice - bench|
|Victor Hedman Hooking against Chris Thorburn|
|Freddy Modin Interference against Ryan Malone|
|Pavel Kubina Hooking against Evander Kane|
|Sean Bergenheim Hi-sticking against Rich Peverley|
|Ryan Malone Holding against Johnny Oduya|
|SA: 31||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 30||EV: 21 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 5|
|SV%: .968||SH: 4 - 4|
|SA: 28||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 27||EV: 22 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 4|
|SV%: .964||SH: 1 - 2|
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