Final SO

Series (Game 4 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 1

(22-21-8, 52 pts)

Lightning 2

(21-20-10, 52 pts)

7:30 PM ET, January 23, 2010

Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

1 2 3 SO T
WPG 1 0 0 01
TB 1 0 0 12

A. Niittymaki (Lightning - G): Saves: 37, Save Pct.: .974

S. Stamkos (Lightning - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

J. Hedberg (Jets - G): Saves: 25, Save Pct.: .962

Thrashers-Lightning Preview


In the previous two seasons, the Tampa Bay Lightning's customary position was looking up at the rest of the Southeast Division.

The Lightning have a chance to get in front of at least one of their rivals Saturday night if they can beat the visiting Atlanta Thrashers.

After consecutive last-place finishes in the Southeast, Tampa Bay is making a push for its first playoff berth since 2006-07 and a recent turnaround at home has helped.

The Lightning (20-20-10) began a 5-1-1 run in Tampa with a 4-3 win over Atlanta on Dec. 26, and an improved offense has played a part as they've scored 22 goals in those games.

Tampa Bay scored 17 goals in its previous eight at home, going 2-5-1.

Martin St. Louis has a team-best four goals and four assists during the last seven home games, and he scored in overtime in Thursday night's 3-2 comeback victory over Toronto.

After being pulled from Tuesday night's 8-2 road loss to the New York Rangers, Antero Niittymaki shut out the Maple Leafs for the final 16:52. That allowed Ryan Malone to score the tying goal with 3:49 left in regulation.

"Confidence-wise for our team, we definitely needed it," coach Rick Tocchet said. "Maybe this loosens us up for Saturday."

The win helped move Tocchet's team a point behind Atlanta (22-21-7) and Florida in the division, and the Lightning could vault into sole possession of second place after Saturday's action.

"We need every point we can get," captain Vincent Lecavalier said. "We don't want to be on the outside looking in when there's 10 games left."

To get those points, the Lightning will first try to take advantage of the Thrashers' road slump. Atlanta is 2-10-2 away from home after starting 9-2-1.

The Thrashers have scored 35 goals over their past 14 road games and have been shut out twice in the last six, falling 1-0 to Florida on Monday night.

Atlanta responded by beating Toronto 4-3 at home the next evening but had a lackluster showing Thursday night against visiting Carolina.

By the time they scored their first goal, the Thrashers were already trailing 4-0 in the second period en route to a 5-2 loss. They failed to take advantage of six power-play opportunities and are 5 of 61 with the man advantage in their last 15 games.

"On special teams, I don't want to use the word horrific, but that's the first thing that comes to my mind," coach John Anderson said. "Our power play isn't generating a lot."

Despite being the subject of trade rumors, Thrashers' forward Ilya Kovalchuk has continued to produce. He has 14 points in his last 10 road games and nine in his past six overall.

Kovalchuk has three goals and two assists in three meetings this season against the Lightning, who have won the past two matchups after losing 11 of the previous 13.

Malone has scored a goal in each of those wins, and St. Louis has a team-leading six points in the three meetings.