Playing Tampa Bay is rough for Atlanta. Regardless of the quality of performance, they just can’t seem to get past the Bolts. It doesn’t matter who is in net (though Dwayne Roloson is now 8-0-1 all time against Atlanta), and it doesn’t matter how well the Thrashers play – the Lightning find a way to beat them.
And, as usual, that way involved Steven Stamkos. Stamkos scored his 36th and 37th goals tonight to continue to lead the league in goal scoring. His first goal was unassisted, and came through a screen and a partial save by Ondrej Pavelec. It’s difficult to stop a puck when you have approximately 6 people two feet away from you, but Pavs very nearly almost did. The puck tipped off of his glove and fell behind him, crossing the goal line. His second goal came from approximately the exact same way that Lightning Guy Boucher said that the team had had success. A slapshot by Steve Downey went off of Pavelec’s pads and directly to an undefended Stamkos, who was positioned to Pavelec’s right – and in front of a wide open net.
Niclas Bergfors opened the scoring tonight in the first period, with Freddy Meyer taking a feed from recent call-up Nigel Dawes, shooting and causing a rebound,which Bergfors got to, beating Dwayne Roloson blocker side. The second goal of the night was Anthony Stewart’s 11th.
Bryan Little scored for the Thrashers in the shootout, but his was the only one. Alexander Burmistrov, Andrew Ladd, and Nigel Dawes both were blocked by Roloson. Victor Hedman was blocked by Pavelec, who allowed a goal to Adam Hall on the next Tampa Bay attempt. He blocked Ryan Malone’s try, but allowed Dominic Moore to sneak the puck past him for the win.
With tonight’s loss, the Thrashers are still in eighth place with 53 points, two points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, who defeated the New York Rangers tonight by a score of 4-1. The Washington Capitals also won tonight, beating the New York Islanders 2-1. The Thrashers are six points behind the Capitals and seven now behind the Lightning in the Southeast Division.
The Thrashers’ next game is Saturday night against the New York Rangers. The Rangers are just three points ahead of the Thrashers right now, and a win Saturday would help Atlanta’s cause.