ATLANTA – The Tampa Bay Lightning are tied for first place in the Southeast Division.
Their coach, Guy Boucher, is hardly impressed.
“We didn’t talk about first place and we won’t talk about it,” Boucher said. “I rarely talk about standings through the year. I really believe in the process.”
Vincent Lecavalier’s second goal of the game—a power-play tally 1:13 into overtime—gave the Lightning a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday night.
Steven Stamkos gave Tampa Bay the game’s first lead with his 28th goal. Lecavalier has six goals this season and three in two games. The Lightning have won two straight and six of seven.
“The last few games, we have been getting some fortunate bounces,” Stamkos said. “I thought tonight we came out of the gate and we just let them hang around. We bend but don’t break. Fortunately we got a power play there.”
Zach Bogosian and Fredrik Modin scored for the Thrashers.
The Lightning have won nine straight against Atlanta, including a 4-0 mark this season over their division rival.
Martin St. Louis overcame flu-like symptoms and assisted on Stamkos’ goal and Lecavalier’s winner.
The first 48 seconds of overtime were played 3-on-3 as Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman and Atlanta’s Dustin Bfyuglien were in the penalty box.
Lecavalier scored from the bottom of the slot with Bfyuglien still penalized for boarding.
“You get frustrated and you have to get past that,” Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay said. “You have to stay focused on what it is that works and what it is you have to accomplish, but we still managed to get a point out of it.”
After Stamkos made it 1-0 8:14 into the game, Bogosian scored his fourth goal to tie it 6:03 into the second.
Lecavalier knocked in a rebound nearly three minutes later to put the Lightning ahead 2-1. After surgery on a broken right hand caused him to miss 15 games, Lecavalier believes he is returning to the top form he is accustomed to.
“It feels good,” Lecavalier said. “They weren’t the prettiest goals. Both came because of good play by my teammates.”
Ondrej Pavelec (12-8-3) made 31 saves for the Thrashers, who have been outscored 8-2 on the power play over the last 10 games.
The Thrashers have dropped three straight and are winless in five of seven. They continued to struggle to stop Stamkos, who has 13 goals and 22 points in 16 games against them.
Modin’s seventh goal, a backhander with 3:43 left in regulation, made it 2-2.
Stamkos, the NHL’s second-leading scorer in goals and points, beat goalie Pavelec with a tip-in from below the right circle.
After making two consecutive saves that twice robbed Rich Peverley and dislodged the net midway through the third, Lightning goalie Dan Ellis left the ice briefly to get his skates sharpened.
Ellis stopped 26 shots to earn the win. Though he knows Boucher has no plans to celebrate a first-place tie with Washington and a three-point lead over Atlanta, Ellis likes his team’s larger focus.
“This year we really want to show we’re a good team,” Ellis said. “We want to be the best team in the league.”
Notes: Tampa Bay is 16-0-1 when leading after two periods. … St. Louis, who ranks third in the NHL with 47 points, played in his 426th straight game. It is the fourth-longest streak among active players. … Thrashers RW Anthony Stewart has eight points, including six assists, in his last six games. … Atlanta D Johnny Oduya (tripping) served the game’s first penalty 12:24 into the second period. … Thrashers C Nik Antropov missed his second straight game because of a hip injury.