Stamkos extends points streak to 16 games in win
TAMPA (AP) Steven Stamkos got high praise from an NHL great.
Stamkos extended his franchise-record
points streak to 16 games, and Antero Niittymaki remained perfect
against Atlanta, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Thrashers 6-2
on Saturday night.
Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet said
former teammate and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux used “Wow!” after the
game to describe the 20-year-old Stamkos.
“He’s a special guy,” Tocchet said about Stamkos. “The guy thrives with ice time.”
Stamkos had two goals – which gave
him 40 for the season – and an assist. The center has 15 goals and 14
assists during his streak.
Niittymaki improved to 17-0-0 overall
against Atlanta. Martin St. Louis, Paul Szczechura, Teddy Purcell – on
a penalty shot – and Vincent Lecavalier also scored for the Lightning,
who stopped a five-game losing streak.
“I thought it was a great team
effort,” Stamkos said. “It was one of those games where if you lose it,
you don’t want to say that’s the season, but it’s pretty devastating to
lose to a team like that that’s ahead of you.”
The Lightning would have fallen five
points behind Atlanta, which started the day eighth in the Eastern
Conference, with a loss Saturday,
St. Louis was shaken up after being
checked into the boards by Atlanta’s Clarke MacArthur with 7:46 left in
the game. After spending a couple minutes kneeling behind the
Thrashers’ net, St. Louis was able to skate off the ice.
“I think he’s going to be OK,” Tocchet said. “It was a scary moment there.”
New Tampa Bay owner Jeff Vinik attended his first home game since getting NHL approval to purchase the team Wednesday.
Niclas Bergfors and Colby Armstrong scored for Atlanta. The Thrashers are 4-1-2 in their last seven games.
“I think they were a little sharper,
wanted it a little more,” Atlanta coach John Anderson said of Tampa
Bay. “If we would have won, it might have hurt their (playoff) chances,
but now they’re right back in it.”
After Bergfors opened the scoring
3:22 into the game, goals by St. Louis, Stamkos and Szczechura gave
Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead after one period. The Thrashers have been
outscored 71-50 in the first this season.
St. Louis tied it at 8:47 before
Stamkos made it 2-1 with 6:54 left in the period from the left circle
during a power play. Szczechura extended the Lightning advantage to 3-1
on his first goal in 29 games at the 17-minute mark.
St. Louis also had two assists, and has 11 goals and 15 assists over his last 17 games.
Armstrong cut the Thrashers’ deficit
to 3-2 at 13:37 of the second. Purcell got the goal back on a penalty
shot with 3:24 to go in the period.
Lecavalier and Stamkos had a third-period goals.
NOTES: Thrashers LW Evander Kane
left during the second with a foot injury, which resulted from blocking
a shot. … Tampa Bay LW Ryan Malone, a member of the U.S. Olympic
team, has not scored a goal in his last 14 games. … Lightning RW
Steve Downie has five goals and eight assists during a 10-game points
streak. He assisted on St. Louis’ goal. … Szczechura was recalled
from Norfolk of the AHL before the game.
Updated March 6, 2010
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