Series (Game 1 of 6)

Tampa Bay leads 6-0

Game 1: Saturday, October 9th
Game 2: Friday, October 22nd
Game 3: Wednesday, December 15th
Game 4: Sunday, December 26th
Game 5: Thursday, January 20th
Game 6: Sunday, January 23rd

Jets 3

(1-1-0, 2 pts)

Lightning 5

(1-0-0, 2 pts)

7:30 PM ET, October 9, 2010

Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

1 2 3 T
WPG 0 2 13
TB 2 2 15

S. Stamkos (Lightning - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

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

V. Lecavalier (Lightning - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Thrashers-Lightning Preview


While Steve Yzerman isn't necessarily expecting the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Stanley Cup this season, the team's first-year general manager is hoping his offseason moves have pointed the club in the right direction.

Guy Boucher makes his NHL coaching debut Saturday night when the Lightning host an Atlanta Thrashers team unsure of when goaltender Ondrej Pavelec will return to the lineup.

With the team missing the playoffs for the third straight season, new owner Jeff Vinik fired general manager Brian Lawton and coach Rick Tocchet on April 12 and hired Yzerman on May 25 to help re-energize a franchise that hasn't won a playoff series since hoisting the Cup in 2004.

"After talking to many people throughout the league, I came to the conclusion that Steve was the person to bring a winning culture back to this team," Vinik said.

Yzerman, a Hall of Fame center ranked sixth in NHL history with 1,755 points, won three Stanley Cups with Detroit as a player and one as an executive in 2008. As the executive director of Hockey Canada, the former Red Wings captain watched his home country win gold at the Vancouver Games.

"There is no easy fix. I don't sit up here with the notion that there is a magic wand I can wave and make changes and we're a Stanley Cup contender," Yzerman said. "I plan on making the Lightning better for the upcoming season, but the long-term goal is to make this team a perennial contender."

One of Yzerman's first moves was hiring Boucher, who led AHL Hamilton to a 52-win season in 2009-10. Boucher, 39, is the league's youngest coach.

"It's a tremendous opportunity. I'm certainly looking forward to building a culture," said Boucher, who passed on the Columbus Blue Jackets' coaching job before signing with the Lightning in June. "I think we've got some great building blocks, and a lot we can work with, and guys we can certainly trust to carry that culture."

The Lightning will lean heavily on third-year center Steven Stamkos, who had a career-best 95 points and tied Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby with a league-high 51 goals.

Captain Vincent Lecavalier is looking to regain his scoring touch after posting 24 goals last season. Since finding the back of the net a career-high 52 times in 2006-07, the veteran center's scoring output has dropped each year.

The Lightning are expecting another big season from forward Martin St. Louis, who had 29 goals and a team-high 65 assists in 2009-10. The club could also receive a boost from veteran Simon Gagne, a four-time 30-goal scorer acquired from Philadelphia in the offseason.

"I'm very excited right now," said Gagne, who had nine goals and 12 points during the Flyers' run to the Stanley Cup finals last season. "I'm looking at this opportunity as a new challenge and a new start."

Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina, who played for Atlanta in 2009-10 following three seasons in Toronto, is also looking for a fresh start as he returns to the city where he spent his first eight seasons.

Kubina could also help the development of second-year defenseman Victor Hedman.

The Lightning signed free agent Dan Ellis in the offseason, but Mike Smith will start in net Saturday.

While the Thrashers (1-0-0) try to determine why Pavelec collapsed 2 1/2 minutes into Friday's 4-2 victory over Washington, Chris Mason will continue to get the nod for Atlanta.

During a stoppage on the other end Friday, the 23-year-old Czech lost consciousness and fell to the ice. Play was stopped for nearly 20 minutes as medical personnel worked over Pavelec before wheeling him off on a stretcher.

"I was really shaken, really concerned," said 19-year-old forward Evander Kane, who scored twice for Atlanta. "It was so unexpected."

The team said in a statement that Pavelec was awake and alert and will be kept overnight in the hospital for observation. The Thrashers will call up a goalie from AHL Chicago to back up Mason, who will try to snap Tampa Bay's five-game winning streak in this matchup.

In Atlanta's last victory over the Lightning -- 6-3 on Oct. 3, 2009 -- Kane recorded an assist in his first NHL game.