for this game

Armstrong's key tally helps propel Thrashers past Lightning

Apr 6, 2008 - 4:09 AM
By Justin Hanover PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning won by losing on Saturday.

Colby Armstrong snapped a tie late in the third period as the Atlanta Thrashers skated to a 4-1 victory over the Lightning at Philips Arena in the season finale for both teams.

Armstrong beat goaltender Mike Smith for a wraparound goal with 4:09 remaining to give Atlanta a 2-1 edge, and Jim Slater and rookie Bryan Little tallied in the final minute to provide the final margin.

"There hasn't been much to cheer about lately," Armstrong said. "But it was great to get the last win. As a franchise, we need to build and lay it on the line next year as a group."

Captain Bobby Holik opened the scoring for the Thrashers, who have won six straight meetings with the Lightning.

It was the second consecutive season in which the rivals met in the season finale, and in both instances, positioning was on the line.

However, unlike the 3-2 shootout win by Atlanta last April that was all about playoff seeding, Saturday's game was about draft positioning. The Lightning (31-42-9) finished with the worst mark in the NHL, giving them a 30 percent chance of receiving the top pick in this June's draft in Monday's lottery drawing.

"This year, there were expectations for good reason," Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis said. "For some reason, we couldn't put it together."

The Los Angeles Kings (32-43-7), who suffered a 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday afternoon, also finished with 71 points but had one more victory than the Lightning.

With the game knotted at 1-1, Armstrong picked up the puck behind the net and beat Smith to his left with just over four minutes left, putting the Thrashers ahead.

"We pretty much had sustained pressure there (on the goal)," Armstrong said. "(Defenseman Garnet Exelby) had a good shot and the goalie didn't know where the puck was. I think I got a little lucky as Smith nicked the puck as it went into the net."

After Tampa Bay pulled Smith for an extra attacker in an attempt to get the equalizer, Slater outbattled Lightning defenseman Filip Kuba along the right wing boards before depositing the puck into the empty net with 56 seconds remaining for a 3-1 advantage.

Just 29 seconds later, Little received a pass from veteran Mark Recchi on the doorstep and netted his sixth goal to complete the scoring.

Holik scored his 15th goal at 5:48 of the first period, but Mathieu Darche tied the game at 1-1 just 3:50 into the middle session, when he beat netminder Kari Lehtonen from in front.

Lehtonen stopped 29 shots for his 17th win of the season - half of his total from 2006-07, when the Thrashers won the Southeast Division title.

"It's sad," Lehtonen said. "The way we played all year, we should be glad that it's over. It's really hard right now. The guys played well in front of me tonight."

Atlanta finished with just 76 points and therefore will have the third-best chance to get the top pick in the draft.

"After making the playoffs last year and not now, I think it hurts more now," Thrashers coach Don Waddell said. "I think this will sit in the guy's minds all summer. They didn't quit. It's a good bunch of guys."

Smith made 20 saves for the Lightning, who were without the services of leading scorer Vincent Lecavalier. The All-Star suffered a dislocated shoulder on Thursday in a 4-1 loss in Washington and will undergo offseason surgery.

"It was a meaningless game, but the guys played their hearts out," said Smith, who finished the season 15-19-0. "When things go bad, it's just bad."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 1 0 1
    ATLANTA 1 0 3 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - BOBBY HOLIK 15 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, CHRIS THORBURN) 5:48
    2ND PRD: TAM - (PP) MATHIEU DARCHE 7 (FILIP KUBA, DAN BOYLE) 3:50
    3RD PRD: ATL - COLBY ARMSTRONG 13 (ERIC PERRIN, GARNET EXELBY) 15:51
    ATL - (EN) JIM SLATER 8

    Apr 5 9:26 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    ATLANTA 4
    3RD PRD: ATL - BRYAN LITTLE 6 (MARK RECCHI, VYACHESLAV KOZLOV) 19:33

    Lightning 1, Thrashers 4  3rd - 0:27Apr 5 9:24 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    ATLANTA 3
    3RD PRD: ATL - (EN) JIM SLATER 8 (COLBY ARMSTRONG) 19:05

    Lightning 1, Thrashers 3  3rd - 0:55Apr 5 9:22 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: ATL - COLBY ARMSTRONG 13 (ERIC PERRIN, GARNET EXELBY) 15:51

    Lightning 1, Thrashers 2  3rd - 4:09Apr 5 9:16 PM
  • 11
    roots
    RUWTbot Took away 61 roots (Close Finish)

    Lightning 1, Thrashers 2  3rd - 4:09Apr 5 9:16 PM
  • 72
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 40 roots (Close Finish)

    Lightning 1, Thrashers 1  3rd - 4:30Apr 5 9:15 PM
  • 32
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 32 roots (Close Finish)

    Lightning 1, Thrashers 1  3rd - 6:00Apr 5 9:11 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 1 1
    ATLANTA 1 0 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - BOBBY HOLIK 15 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, CHRIS THORBURN) 5:48
    2ND PRD: TAM - (PP) MATHIEU DARCHE 7 (FILIP KUBA, DAN BOYLE) 3:50
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAM 8 14

    Apr 5 8:33 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: TAM - FILIP KUBA 7 (DAN BOYLE, MARTIN ST. LOUIS) 3:50

    Lightning 1, Thrashers 1  2nd - 16:10Apr 5 8:06 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 0
    ATLANTA 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - BOBBY HOLIK 15 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, CHRIS THORBURN) 5:48
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAM 8 8
    ATL 7 7
    GOALIES: TAM - MIKE SMITH
    ATL

    Apr 5 7:41 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 0
    ATLANTA 1
    1ST PRD: ATL - BOBBY HOLIK 15 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, CHRIS THORBURN) 5:48

    Lightning 0, Thrashers 1  1st - 14:12Apr 5 7:20 PM