It would be swell if the Thrashers could avoid going into a shootout for the fourth straight game. It's not helpful for them to give away extra points to teams like the Florida Panthers, who they defeated Monday night. It's also frustrating when you blow leads to give the opponent a chance to not only get the extra point, but win in extra innings. If Atlanta wants to stop building a tenuous lead point by point over the Carolina Hurricanes, they need to shift their focus to climbing up the standings. Maintaining the status quo never helped anyone.
Thursday night, Steven Stamkos scored both of Tampa Bay's regulation goals to force the overtime period. One of these goals was a bounce that deflected directly to Stamkos who, yet again, had a clear shot at an empty net. The key to winning tonight's game isn't just to cover Stamkos, it's to actually position players in front of the net to give Pavelec a hand in case he can't get back in time. Better yet, take notes on where Stamkos is to get the rebounds and try it on Dwayne Roloson.
The Lightning begin a twelve game homestand that keeps them in the St. Pete Times Forum until the end of February. They are 14-4-2 at home, while the Thrashers are respectable 12-9-4 on the road. The Lightning have beaten the Thrashers eleven straight games, with the last three being forced into the shootout for a decision. The Thrash's inability to play a solid sixty minutes against the Bolts has lead to the large disparity in the standings. A couple of wins against Tampa Bay could have helped Atlanta maintain first place in the Division.
The Thrashers haven't trailed for the past two games, but lost both in shootouts. They've also allowed 29 goals in their last six games, of which they've only won one. Pavelec, though, has only allowed two regulation goals per game in his last three games, signaling a return to form after the 6-1 blowout in Dallas. To be fair, Pavelec came in cold to relieve an injured Chris Mason and was not expecting to play that night.
As of now, the line up and lines for the Thrashers should be the same, which means that Zach Bogosian will sit in favor of Freddy Meyer for his fourth straight game.