Thrashers fall to Lightning in shootout
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Steven Stamkos took care of the scoring in regulation, which is nothing unusual — especially when he’s going against the Atlanta Thrashers.
A more unlikely player came through for Tampa Bay in the shootout.
Dominic Moore scored the first shootout goal of his career, beating Ondrej Pavelec with a brilliant move to end the game and give the Lightning their 10th straight victory over the Thrashers, 3-2 Thursday night.
Stamkos scored both Lightning goals in regulation, the second tying the game in the opening minute of the third period. He has an NHL-leading 37 goals on the season — and 15 goals in 17 career games against the Thrashers.
“We get goals against these guys,” Stamkos said. “We play them a lot. We’re familiar with them. We find a way.”
Dwayne Roloson came up a huge save in the final minute of overtime when Dustin Byfuglien came in on a breakaway, but had the puck knocked away with a flick of the goalie stick before he got off a shot.
Atlanta jumped ahead in the opening round of the shootout when Bryan Little dribbled a shot between Roloson’s legs. But he followed with three straight saves, while Tampa Bay won it on goals by Adam Hall and Moore, who swept in off right wing, stopped suddenly in front of the net, his skates digging into the ice, and backhanded the puck past Pavelec.
Moore had been 0 for 2 in career shootouts.
The struggling Thrashers have lost five straight this season to first-place Tampa Bay, though they have managed to pick up three points with a pair of shootout losses and another setback in overtime. Atlanta has only four wins in its last 14 games.
“I thought we played a pretty good game,” Atlanta’s Brent Sopel said. “We played smart and we played hard. We didn’t give them too many opportunities, but we need to find a win. We need to find a way to win these one-goal games.”
The Thrashers were coming off an improbable win at Florida, where they scored twice in the last 1:58 of regulation, then won the shootout to avoid what would’ve been a season-high five-game losing streak. But they couldn’t make it two in a row.
The Thrashers jumped ahead about 5 minutes into the game when Niclas Bergfors scored his 10th goal. He was left unchecked in front of the net and one-timed a rebound past Roloson, who had made the initial save on Freddy Meyer’s shot.
Tampa Bay tied it up before the period was done. Brett Clark got off a shot that was batted down in front, Victor Hedman got a whack at it in front of the net before the puck appeared to deflect off the shaft of Stamkos’ stick, change directions and slip past Pavelec.
“I just go to the net,” Stamkos said. “That’s something I’m trying to focus on this year. You just go to the net and get the dirty goal.”
Just past the midway point of the second period, Atlanta scored again off a rebound — actually two — to reclaim the lead with a 4-on-3 power-play goal. Sopel got off the initial shot, which was blocked by Roloson. Nik Antropov got a whack at it, too, and Roloson made another save with his right pad.
But yet another Atlanta player was all alone in front. Anthony Stewart scooped up the loose puck and easily beat Roloson, sprawled out in the crease, for his 11th goal.
Stamkos wiped out that lead 32 seconds into the third period. Pavel Kubina ripped a shot wide of the net, it slammed off the back boards and struck Pavelec and Tampa Bay’s Steve Downie on the ricochet, winding up right on Stamkos’ stick at the side of the net. He flipped it over the goalie’s pads from a tight angle to tie the game again.
“We are a team that never stops fighting,” Hall said. “We were behind in the first period, again in the second period and again in the shootout, but we came back each time.”
NOTES: Bergfors became the seventh Atlanta player to reach double-figure goals. … The game was played a sparse crowd that appeared to be no more than 7,000, even though the announced attendance was 12,314. … Roloson made 27 saves in regulation and overtime, while Pavelec blocked 29 of 31 shot by the Lightning.
Updated January 20, 2011