Final SO

Series (Game 1 of 8)

Tampa Bay leads 5-3

Game 1: Thursday, October 5th
Game 2: Monday, October 9th
Game 3: Saturday, November 11th
Game 4: Friday, November 24th
Game 5: Thursday, December 7th
Game 6: Tuesday, December 26th
Game 7: Thursday, February 22nd
Game 8: Saturday, April 7th

Lightning 3

(1-0-0, 2 pts)

Jets 2

(0-0-1, 1 pts)

7:00 PM ET, October 5, 2006

Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

1 2 3 SO T
TB 0 1 1 13
WPG 2 0 0 02

R. Craig (Lightning - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

K. Lehtonen (Jets - G): Saves: 24, Save Pct.: .923

S. Mellanby (Jets - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Tampa Bay (43-33-6) at Atlanta (41-33-8) 7:00 pm EDT

Tampa Bay (43-33-6) at Atlanta (41-33-8) 7:00 pm EDT

ATLANTA (Ticker) - The Tampa Bay Lightning beat out the Atlanta Thrashers for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot last year. Despite losing two of their better players in the offseason, the Thrashers will try to catch up.

Atlanta begins its quest on Thursday against Tampa Bay in the season opener for both teams.

The Lightning finished ahead of the Thrashers and the Toronto Maple Leafs by two points for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference last season. Atlanta, which fell short of its first playoff berth, seemingly has gotten worse in the offseason.

The Thrashers will miss center Marc Savard, who had a career season in 2005-06, recording 97 points to finish ninth in the league in scoring. Savard, who had 28 goals and 69 assists, signed a four-year deal with the Boston Bruins worth $20 million.

Along with Savard, the Thrashers will miss veteran right wing Peter Bondra, a free agent to whom the team did not even make an offer in the offseason. Bondra had 21 goals and 18 assists in 60 games, and is not on an NHL roster.

Entering its seventh NHL season, Atlanta is just one of two franchises never to appear in the playoffs. The Columbus Blue Jackets are the other.

One of Tampa Bay's best offensive players also departed. After a pair of sub-par seasons, Fredrik Modin appeared to have regained his scoring touch the last two campaigns, scoring 29 goals in 2003-04 and tying Martin St. Louis for second on the team with 31 in 2005-06. He was dealt to the Blue Jackets.

With no one brought in from the outside to help compensate for the lost offense, the Lightning will be hoping someone from within the organization steps up.

Tampa Bay won the season series, 4-3-1, last campaign. The Thrashers won the last meeting, 6-2 in Tampa Bay on April 11.