for this game

Kovalchuk fuels Thrashers past Lightning

Dec 19, 2007 - 3:41 AM
By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The struggling Tampa Bay Lightning helped the Atlanta Thrashers forget all about their recent woes.

Ilya Kovalchuk notched his league-leading 27th tally and added an assist and Kari Lehtonen set aside 32 shots to power the Thrashers to a 6-2 rout of the road-weary Lightning in a matchup between Southeast Division rivals on Tuesday.

Mark Recchi and Vyacheslav Kozlov tallied first-period goals for Atlanta, which snapped a four-game losing streak.

"This is a good start," Lehtonen said. "But it doesn't take away from losing four in a row. We have to build on this and focus on (Thursday's game against Ottawa)."

Tampa Bay, which entered with a league-worst 3-11-1 road record, continued to struggle on the highway, losing for the sixth time in its last seven games away from the St. Pete Times Forum.

"We all have to stick together," Tampa Bay right wing Martin St. Louis said. "It's easy to pull apart when things go like that. We have to stay close and focused. There's a lot of games left."

With Atlanta struggling, interim coach Don Waddell broke up the superstar combination of Marian Hossa and Kovalchuk from the club's first line in a quest to find a more even distribution of offense.

Hossa was teamed with Kozlov and Eric Perrin on Atlanta's first line, while Kovalchuk was paired with the newly acquired Recchi and Todd White on another line. The move paid almost immediate dividends.

"(The new lines) work," Kovalchuk said. "We scored a couple of goals. Hossa's line got a goal. Teams now have to play two good lines against us. Before they put their best defenseman playing against (Hossa and I) and they shut us down. It's better."

"All the lines contributed offensively for us," Waddell said. "The key for us was our start. We played a great first period and I thought we took the game over right off the bat."

Staked to a 1-0 lead, Kovalchuk fed Recchi, who skated from the left faceoff circle in front of Johan Holmqvist before he was pulled down by defenseman Shane O'Brien.

But the 39-year old Recchi muscled the puck between the legs of Holmqvist while he was falling to the ice for his third goal as a Thrasher to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead at 15:05 of the first period.

"I have no idea (how I scored)," Recchi said. "I kind of pulled it and it hit him in the pads and went in."

Hossa's line found the net about two minutes later when Kozlov poked in a loose puck on a rebound from Hossa's shot from in front of the net to pad the lead.

"They played a lot last year together and it didn't look like they lost a beat there," Waddell said. "That line was very good tonight and created offensive chances."

A frustrated Holmqvist threw his blocker in disgust after the goal and argued with the officials that a whistle should have been blown for a frozen puck.

"I was really upset because I thought it was the wrong call," Holmqvist said. "It was a big momentum shift in the game. They're up 2-0 there and it's a whole different story. Obviously, it was not a good thing that we were down 3-0."

Backup Marc Denis replaced Holmqvist to start the second period after the 29-year old stopped six of nine shots in the first period.

By then, the Lightning were well on their way to their third straight loss.

"It was a pretty rough first period," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "We need to keep on trying. We need to keep on believing. We just have to find away to grind through this."

Denis quickly allowing a goal to Chris Thorburn five minutes into the second period to give Atlanta a four-goal lead before Kovalchuk beat him with a wrister from the high slot on a breakaway with 10:32 remaining in the third.

"I was excited when I scored," Kovalchuk said. "You can go 20 breakaways with zero goals."

Pascal Dupuis capped the scoring, beating Denis with a shorthanded tally with 4:20 seconds remaining.

Denis set aside 12 shots in the final two periods.

One of the lone bright spots for Tampa Bay was a shorthanded tally by Jason Ward.

Ward picked Kovalchuk's pocket in the Lightning zone and beat Lehtonen with a wrister from the right faceoff circle at 14:26 of the second period.

Atlanta got on the board at 5:56 of the first period on Garnet Exelby's slap shot. Vaclav Prospal added a power-play tally with 7:18 remaining in the third period for Tampa Bay to cut the lead to 5-2.

Lehtonen did most of his work in the second period, setting aside 13 shots for Atlanta, which won for the first time since December 7.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 1 1 2
    ATLANTA 3 1 2 6 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - GARNET EXELBY 2 (BOBBY HOLIK, STEVE MCCARTHY) 5:56
    ATL - MARK RECCHI 5 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, KARI LEHTONEN) 15:04
    ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 9 (MARIAN HOSSA, ERIC PERRIN) 17:27
    2ND PRD: ATL - CHRIS THORBURN 2 (STEVE MCC

    Dec 18 9:33 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 2
    ATLANTA 6
    3RD PRD: ATL - (SH) PASCAL DUPUIS 5 (ERIC PERRIN) 15:20

    Lightning vs. ThrashersDec 18 9:23 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 2
    ATLANTA 5
    3RD PRD: TAM - (PP) VACLAV PROSPAL 15 (PAUL RANGER, BRAD RICHARDS)
    12:42

    Lightning vs. ThrashersDec 18 9:17 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    ATLANTA 5
    3RD PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 27 (UNASSISTED) 9:28

    Lightning vs. ThrashersDec 18 9:08 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 1 1
    ATLANTA 3 1 4 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - GARNET EXELBY 2 (BOBBY HOLIK, STEVE MCCARTHY) 5:56
    ATL - MARK RECCHI 5 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, KARI LEHTONEN) 15:04
    ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 9 (MARIAN HOSSA, ERIC PERRIN) 17:27
    2ND PRD: ATL - CHRIS THORBURN

    Dec 18 8:35 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    ATLANTA 4
    2ND PRD: TAM - (SH) JASON WARD 4 (UNASSISTED) 14:26

    Lightning vs. ThrashersDec 18 8:24 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 0
    ATLANTA 4
    2ND PRD: ATL - CHRIS THORBURN 2 (STEVE MCCARTHY, ERIC BOULTON) 5:20

    Lightning vs. ThrashersDec 18 8:08 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 0
    ATLANTA 3 3 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - BRAD LARSEN 2 (GARNET EXELBY, BOBBY HOLIK) 5:56
    ATL - MARK RECCHI 5 (ILYA KOVALCHUK) 15:04
    ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 9 (MARIAN HOSSA, ERIC PERRIN) 17:27
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    ---

    Dec 18 7:42 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 0
    ATLANTA 3
    1ST PRD: ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 9 (MARIAN HOSSA, ERIC PERRIN) 17:27

    Lightning vs. ThrashersDec 18 7:39 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 0
    ATLANTA 2
    1ST PRD: ATL - MARK RECCHI 5 (ILYA KOVALCHUK) 15:04

    Lightning vs. ThrashersDec 18 7:32 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 0
    ATLANTA 1
    1ST PRD: ATL - BRAD LARSEN 2 (GARNET EXELBY, BOBBY HOLIK) 5:56

    Lightning vs. ThrashersDec 18 7:18 PM