NHL Game Summary - Tampa Bay at Atlanta
(Tuesday, February 2nd)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 2, Atlanta 1
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Antero Niittymaki was sharp with 26 saves and the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Atlanta Thrashers, 2-1, in a Southeast Division battle at Philips Arena.
Stephane Veilleux and Marty St. Louis scored for Tampa Bay, which has earned at least one point in five of its last six games (4-1-1).
"We are in playoff mode right now," said St. Louis. "This was an important win. For us to get the win in regulation was big -- we didn't give them a (standings) point and we move one step closer."
Todd White scored the only goal for the Thrashers, who have lost two straight after two consecutive wins. Ondrej Pavelec allowed two goals on 24 shots in the losing effort.
"It's another game -- it's an important win for sure, but every game is important," said Pavelec. "We need the points, but Niittymaki played great against us again tonight."
The Lightning opened the scoring midway through the first period on a goal by Veilleux. Alex Tanguay held control of the puck below the left circle near the goal line and dealt a soft drop pass to Veilleux, whose one-timer from a sharp angle inside the lower portion of the circle beat Pavelec at the 9:37 mark.
Just over three minutes later, the visitors moved ahead 2-0 courtesy of swift passing. Steve Downie cradled the puck along the rear boards and sent a pass to Steve Stamkos, who was stationed along the inner rim of the left circle. Stamkos then quickly passed across the low slot for a successful wrister by St. Louis from below the right circle near the goal line at 12:43.
"We knew it was going to be a tight game because of the way we play," added St. Louis.
In the early stages of the second stanza, the Thrashers cut their deficit in half when a seemingly harmless wrist shot from near the right point made its way through traffic, hit Niittymaki's stick, bounced up over the netminder's mask and trickled over the goal line. The goal, which occurred 2:46 in, was credited to White.
The best scoring chances for Atlanta in the third period came during a power play with under eight minutes remaining in regulation. Ilya Kovalchuk had several one-timer attempts from his patented position atop the left circle, but one was blocked and the other two sailed high and wide.
The Thrashers pulled Pavelec in the final minute for the extra attacker. Maxim Afinogenov had a good look from the right point, but his shot never made it to the net. Kovalchuk again had several attempts from the left side via the one- timer, but to no avail.
The Lightning are now 9-15-5 on the road this season and will return home to open a four-game homestand against the Islanders on Thursday...This marked only the third win for the Bolts over their last 11 trips to Atlanta...Both teams finished scoreless on three power-play chances.
02/02 22:05:21 ET