The Lightning just made a huge statement in the early season jockeying for divisional supremacy.
John Tortorella continues to ride with the hot hand as Johan Holmqvist stopped 27 of 30 shots for the win. The Lightning scored 4 unanswered goals to start the game and never looked back. Dan Boyle led the way with 1 goal and 1 assist and was named first star of the game. Nikita Alexeev and Brad Richards also had 1 goal and 1 assist while Martin St. Louis chipped in a pair of helpers. Richards and St. Louis were named second and third stars respectively. Ryan Craig and Vincent Lecavalier also had goals for the Lightning with individual helpers going to Paul Ranger, Filip Kuba and Vaclav Prospal. The Lightning outshot the Thrashers 36-30 in the game.
I hope the national hockey media takes notice of what occured in this game. In their race to heap piles of praise upon the Thrashers and annoint them as Eastern Conference royalty, they seem to have forgotten that the Lightning, along with the Carolina Hurricanes, are the only battle tested teams in this division with hardware to prove it. With the victory, the Lightning are now 8 points behind Atlanta for the division lead, but it should be noted the team has 3 games in hand on their rivals from Georgia. I expect the race for the Southeast to get much tighter in the next month and then we'll see if Atlanta truly has the endurance for this kind of marathon. To this point of their franchise's existence, they have not.
Tampa Bay 17:55, Ryan Craig 6 (power play) (Dan Boyle, Paul Ranger)
Tampa Bay 4:58, Dan Boyle 1 (power play) (Filip Kuba, Vaclav Prospal)
Tampa Bay 12:26, Brad Richards 5 (unassisted)
Tampa Bay 15:29, Vincent Lecavalier 10 (Nikita Alexeev, Martin St. Louis)
Atlanta 19:28, Marian Hossa 14 (power play) (Glen Metropolit, Slava Kozlov)
Atlanta 8:56, Marian Hossa 15 (Slava Kozlov, Shane Hnidy)
Tampa Bay 13:23, Nikita Alexeev 6 (power play) (Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis)
Atlanta 17:16, Steve Rucchin 3 (Slava Kozlov, Niclas Havelid)
Doug Janik was -1 in 9:38 with 2 shots and 2 hits. Eric Perrin was -2 in 12:55 and 0/1 on draws. Nick Tarnasky was again a scratch for the Lightning.
Game sheet from NHL.com.