The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their dominance of the Atlanta Thrashers this season with a 6-2 victory in the St. Pete Times Forum last night. The victory was a nice introduction for new owner Jeff Vinik. This was the first home game since Vinik took ownership on March 3. The Lightning have beaten the Thrashers this season 5 out of 6 games. With this victory the Lightning are two games out of playoff contention behind the Thrashers.
In addition to new ownership, Tampa recalled Paul Szczechura from the Norfolk Admirals. He scored Tampa’s third goal 17 minutes into the first period. Teddy Purcell also scored on a penalty shot in the second. Tampa acquired him last week on the last day of trading from the Los Angeles Kings for Jeff Halpern. The Lightning also received a 3rd round 2010 draft pick from the Kings. Both these decisions look good after last night’s game.
Niclas Bergfors for Atlanta started the scoring at 3:22 minutes into the game, then Martin St. Louis scored first for Tampa. Steven Stamkos scored two goals in the game bringing him to 40 for the season, behind Alexander Ovechkin (42) and Sidney Crosby (44). Colby Armstrong scored the second goal for Atlanta early in the second period. Vinnie Lecavalier also scored for Tampa.
Goalies for the game were Johan Hedberg for the Thrashers and Antero Niittymaki for the Lightning. With this win Niittymaki is 17-0-0 against the Thrashers. He blocked 29 shots in the game.
Late in the third period St. Louis took a horrific hit behind the Thrashers net. Trainers came onto the ice to attend to him. He left the game, but at last report would be okay.
There was no question of the outcome in this game. Even though Atlanta scored first, the Lightning controlled the game all night. Niittymaki performed well in the goal, and Stamkos, St. Louis, and Lecavalier provided scoring support. The two new guys on the ice for Tampa Bay, Szczechura and Purcell, also provided goal production. The penalty shot by Purcell was exceptionally sweet. With the new blood and new management, maybe the Lightning can make the playoffs.