Grahame earns shutout as Lightning beat Thrashers

ATLANTA (AP) -- Once again, John Grahame and the Tampa Bay
Lightning made the high-scoring Atlanta Thrashers look downright

Grahame shut out the Thrashers for the second time this season,
turning aside 20 shots in a 2-0 victory Saturday night that lifted
the Lightning back into second place in the Southeast Division.

Vincent Lecavalier and Fredrik Modin scored power-play goals for
the Lightning, which won its third straight -- all on the road. Even
playing for the second straight night, Tampa Bay stifled the
Thrashers, who lost a wild 8-6 game in Los Angeles on Thursday and
ranked fifth in the NHL in goals per contest.

"They have so much firepower, you have to try to match their
intensity," Grahame said. "You give them an inch and they'll
score a dozen goals."

The Thrashers couldn't even get one against Grahame, a U.S.
Olympic goalie who also blanked Atlanta 6-0 on Oct. 20. He has
three shutouts overall.

Tampa Bay kept up the pressure by sending two forecheckers into
the Thrashers' zone, while the Lightning's own defensemen jumped up
to contain prolific wingers such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian
Hossa, who totaled only seven shots and didn't have any exceptional

"They made us look like we were skating in slush," Thrashers
captain Scott Mellanby said. "There was a lot of slop out there.
Give them credit. They executed."

Tampa Bay won its third in a row, while the Thrashers have lost
two straight after winning seven of eight. The Lightning improved
to 53 points -- one ahead of the Thrashers, who slipped into the
final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"It's only one game," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "It's
not the end of the world."

Modin scored a fluke goal off a double-ricochet in the first
period, then Lecavalier iced it for the Lightning with 7:27
remaining. After Darryl Sydor fired a shot off the post, Lecavalier
backhanded a loose puck past goalie Keri Lehtonen from the side of
the net.

The opening period was largely uneventful until the Thrashers
were called for two straight penalties. They killed off the first
one, only to have Serge Aubin get whistled for hooking just 7
seconds later.

This time, the Lightning took advantage. Brad Richards attempted
a shot from near the left circle, but the puck deflected off
Thrashers defenseman Niclas Havelid, then bounced off Fredrik
Modin, who was tied up with Atlanta's Andy Sutton in front of the
net. Lehtonen had no idea where the puck was as it slid past him
for Modin's 19th goal.

"We're not trying to do anything fancy," Modin said. "We're
just chipping away."

Lehtonen came up with one of his best saves of the season early
in the second period. Martin St. Louis stole the puck in the
Thrashers zone, took off to the Atlanta net and slipped a pass to
Lecavalier breaking in alone off right wing.

The Lightning star appeared to have a certain goal, but Lehtonen
snatched the puck out of the air with a brilliant glove save as he
sprawled across the crease.

Lecavalier got payback in the third, however, with his 20th of
the season.

"From that angle, I didn't think he would be able to score,"
Lehtonen said. "It was a good shot."

The Thrashers had a couple of good chances on a power play late
in the second period. Marc Savard got an open look streaking off
left wing, but made an ill-advised pass in front that was broken up
by Tampa Bay.

Savard got another chance from straight on with the clock
winding down, but his blistering shot caught the post to Grahame's
left as the horn sounded. It wasn't clear if the shot would have
counted even if the puck had gone in.

Game notes
The standing-room turnout of 18,704 was Atlanta's third
sellout and the second-largest crowd of the season, surpassed only
by the 18,759 that attended the home opener. ... Tampa Bay went up
in the season series, 3-2. ... Grahame has 10 career shutouts. ...
Lehtonen made 22 saves. ... The Thrashers had won a
franchise-record four in a row at Philips Arena.