Final OT

Series (Game 2 of 6)

Tampa Bay leads 5-1

Game 1: Saturday, October 3rd
Game 2: Sunday, November 22nd
Game 3: Saturday, December 26th
Game 4: Saturday, January 23rd
Game 5: Tuesday, February 2nd
Game 6: Saturday, March 6th

Lightning 4

(9-5-7, 25 pts)

Jets 3

(10-7-3, 23 pts)

5:00 PM ET, November 22, 2009

Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

1 2 3 OT T
TB 0 2 1 14
WPG 0 0 3 03

S. Stamkos (Lightning - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

K. Foster (Lightning - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

T. Enstrom (Jets - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Lightning-Thrashers Preview


It's not immediately known who Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet will start in goal Sunday. He may want to give a long look to Antero Niittymaki.

Should the backup be tabbed to face Atlanta, Niittymaki will try to extend his winning streak over the Thrashers to an incredible 14 games.

Niittymaki helped Finland win the silver medal at the 2006 Olympics, but managed only 62 wins in five seasons with Philadelphia before joining the Lightning via free agency in July.

So far, the move has paid off handsomely for Tampa Bay. In 10 games, Niittymaki is 5-1-3 with a 1.93 goals-against average while Mike Smith continues to struggle -- 3-4-4 with a 3.36 GAA.

Niittymaki's success against the Thrashers is nothing short of amazing, as he's 13-0-0 with a 1.78 GAA. Nine of those wins have come in Atlanta, where he's posted a 1.47 GAA.

Regardless of who starts in net, Tampa Bay comes in having lost eight of its last nine (1-5-3) visits to Philips Arena.

This is the second meeting of the season for these Southeast Division foes. After failing to make the playoffs in 2008-09, Atlanta opened this season Oct. 3 with a 6-3 home win over Tampa Bay.

Rich Peverley and Ilya Kovalchuk each scored twice and rookie Ondrej Pavelec made 36 saves in place of Kari Lehtonen, who's recovering from offseason back surgery and has yet to play.

Tampa Bay, which finished last season with an NHL-low 66 points, got two goals from Martin St. Louis.

Now, Atlanta (10-7-2) and Tampa Bay (8-5-7) are in the middle of the pack in the Southeast. The Lightning are in second place, eight points behind Washington, while Atlanta is one point in back of Tampa Bay and tied with fourth-place Florida.

Both clubs are coming off losses Saturday.

The Thrashers spotted Pittsburgh a three-goal lead before falling 3-2. Chris Thorburn scored short-handed midway through the third period and Maxim Afinogenov got Atlanta within one in the final minute.

Johan Hedberg stopped 31 shots, drawing praise from Thorburn.

"We could have been down 4-0 in the second period but Moose (Hedberg) kept us in it," he said.

While Peverley and Kovalchuk remain Atlanta's top two scorers with 23 and 21 points, respectively, Afinogenov has been surging with six goals in a five-game streak to give him 19 points.

The Lightning got an early goal from St. Louis but lost their eighth straight road game to Carolina, 3-1. That also ended Tampa Bay's seven-game run of picking up at least one point (4-0-3).

"I am a little disappointed in some of the top guys," Tocchet said. "I think Martin St. Louis played well, but some of our other top guys just didn't show up tonight."

One of those top guys Tocchet called out may be captain Vincent Lecavalier, who has only four goals after averaging more than 40 over the past three seasons.