Series (Game 5 of 6)

Series tied 3-3

Game 1: Tuesday, October 21st
Game 2: Saturday, November 29th
Game 3: Friday, December 26th
Game 4: Saturday, January 31st
Game 5: Wednesday, February 25th
Game 6: Saturday, April 3rd

Lightning 4

(33-17-5, 78 pts)

Jets 2

(24-32-2, 56 pts)

7:30 PM ET, February 25, 2004

Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

1 2 3 T
TB 1 0 34
WPG 1 0 12

V. Lecavalier (Lightning - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

M. Savard (Jets - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

P. Nurminen (Jets - G): Saves: 30, Save Pct.: .909

Tampa Bay widens its Southeast lead

ATLANTA (AP) -- Vincent Lecavalier had the perfect answer for Marc Savard's game-tying goal.

"I hadn't scored on a breakaway in a long time," Lecavalier said. "If you don't score on a breakaway, it does something to your confidence."

Lecavalier sneaked behind the Atlanta defense with 1:24 remaining for his second goal Wednesday night as the streaking Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Thrashers 4-2.

Tampa Bay won at Philips Arena for the first time in eight games. Brad Richards scored early in the third period, Cory Stillman added an empty-net goal and Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 23 shots.

But Savard beat Khabibulin with an 8-foot wrist shot from the left circle after Shawn McEachern passed the puck across the slot on a power play with 12:33 remaining.

"We can't lose games in the last minute," Savard said. "We work all year on defensive zone, and that's where you've got to come up big."

More than 11 minutes after Savard's 19th goal, Lecavalier knew the window was open once he saw the Thrashers try to pin Martin St. Louis against the boards. He was skating toward the slot when St. Louis fed him with a pass from center ice.

"I was hoping he would get it to me, and he did," Lecavalier said. "I wasn't sure what the puck would do."

Earning his 26th point in the last 18 games, Lecavalier faked out Pasi Nurminen with a 17-foot wrist shot that beat the goaltender on his stick side. The Lightning improved to 11-2-0-3 in their last 16 road games. Tampa Bay has lost in regulation just twice in 24 games overall.

Atlanta fell to 5-18-3-1 since beating the Lightning 3-1 on Dec. 26. The Thrashers had an eight-point lead over Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division after that game but now trail the Lightning by 22 points. In that same time span, Tampa Bay is 19-5-2-4.

Lecavalier made it 1-0 by putting in his own rebound on the right side of the crease in the first period.

"It was great to get our two points and get out of here," Lecavalier said. "We've had trouble against them."

Atlanta forward Ilya Kovalchuk, tied with Columbus' Rick Nash for the NHL lead in goals (33), missed both of his shots. Kovalchuk entered with four goals and three assists in his last four games.

Ben Simon's third goal made it 1-1 four minutes after Lecavalier opened the scoring. Skating toward the right side of the crease, Simon wristed in a rebound after Khabibulin stopped Shawn Heins' wraparound.

Arguably Khabibulin's best stop came against Kovalchuk. With defenseman Dan Boyle helping to push Kovalchuk away from the goal, Khabibulin reached to his right to stop the shot from the left circle with 3:04 remaining.

"There was one of our defensemen he had to go around, so that gave me some time," Khabibulin said. "He made a great shot, but it kind of hit me in the shoulder."

Khabibulin improved to 18-15-6 and won for the second straight night, following a 6-3 victory at Washington. Nurminen fell to 20-23-5.

Game notes

The Lightning entered with a 1-8-3 all-time record in Atlanta. ... Tampa Bay hadn't won at Philips Arena since March 21, 2001, when it took a 4-3 victory. ... Atlanta entered with nine injured players; the Lightning had none. ... Tampa Bay acquired defenseman Timo Helbling from Nashville on Wednesday for an eighth-round pick in the 2004 draft. ... The Thrashers, who entered with 22 healthy players on the roster, claimed forward Brad Larsen off waivers from Colorado. General manager Don Waddell said Larsen would join the team at practice Thursday.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press