Series (Game 3 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

Jets 3

(18-15-4, 40 pts)

Lightning 4

(14-15-9, 37 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 26, 2009

Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

1 2 3 T
WPG 1 1 13
TB 1 1 24

V. Lecavalier (Lightning - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 3

M. Lundin (Lightning - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

S. Downie (Lightning - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Thrashers-Lightning Preview


The Atlanta Thrashers have struggled to keep opponents off the scoreboard lately, but their fortunes could change against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Thrashers look to snap out of their defensive slump Saturday night when they visit the Lightning, a team they've dominated the past three seasons and one that's had its problems on offense in recent home games.

With star winger Ilya Kovalchuk on another hot streak, Atlanta (18-14-4) has tallied at least three goals in seven straight games. The Thrashers, however, have only one win in their last five contests because they've been outscored 24-20 in that span, including 15-11 during their current three-game skid.

That losing streak continued with Wednesday night's 6-4 defeat in Boston. In the opener of a season-high seven-game road trip, the Thrashers allowed three goals in the first 10:52 but closed within one late in the third period before the Bruins tacked on an empty-netter.

"At the 10-minute mark, we let down for about a minute there and we got a little discombobbled and they scored a couple of quick goals," coach John Anderson said.

Despite its defensive breakdowns of late, Anderson's club has a good opportunity to snap its skid against the Lightning (13-15-9).

Atlanta has outscored Tampa Bay 52-34 while going 11-1-2 in the series since Nov. 3, 2007. The Thrashers are 4-0-1 at the St. Pete Times Forum during that stretch.

Tampa Bay comes into Saturday having scored eight goals in its last five home games (1-4-0) and four during its three-game skid there.

The Lightning tallied 10 goals in back-to-back victories to end a season-high six-game trip, but Philadelphia denied them their longest win streak of the season by handing them a 5-2 defeat Wednesday.

Tampa Bay's goals, from Zenon Konopka and Victor Hedman, tied the game in the second period, but the Lightning gave up three unanswered scores in the final 10 minutes.

"Unacceptable," Konopka said. "Painful. Frustrating. It's not good enough at all. We have the horses. If we continue on this road, we're not making the playoffs."

Despite that aggravating defeat, Tampa Bay might be encouraged by its 4-3 overtime victory in Atlanta on Nov. 22. The Lightning also took the Thrashers to a shootout in the previous meeting in Tampa Bay on March 31 before falling 4-3.

Atlanta, however, opened this season with a 6-3 home victory over the visiting Lightning as Kovalchuk and Rich Peverley each had two goals and an assist. Martin St. Louis scored twice for the Lightning.

Kovalchuk, whose 21 goals are tied for sixth in the league with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, has five goals and seven assists in the last eight games. He's registered eight goals in his last six road games against the Lightning and five in the last five overall meetings.

Stamkos, who has four goals and an assist in his last five contests, has scored four times in his past four matchups with Atlanta, including the winning goal on Nov. 22.