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Atlanta
Thrashers
34-40-8
Tampa Bay
Lightning
31-42-9

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Thrashers-Lightning Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:52 AM

Associated Press

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Thrashers-Lightning Preview
Atlanta Thrashers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Vincent Lecavalier was the NHL's leading goal scorer last season and appears set on repeating that feat this year.

Lecavalier looks to help the Tampa Bay Lightning to consecutive victories to open the season when they host the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday in a matchup of the Southeast Division's two top teams from last season.

Lecavalier, who is coming off a 2006-07 season where he recorded career highs with 52 goals, 56 assists and 108 points, scored twice in the Lightning's season-opening 3-1 win over New Jersey on Thursday.

His second goal with 3:52 left in the third period broke a tie and helped Tampa Bay (1-0-0) win its fifth straight opener.

"He's a good hockey player," New Jersey forward John Madden told the Lightning's official Web site. "You don't get 52 goals for no reason. You combine all his talent with his hard work, and he's going to get his chances. He's persistent and he comes to play."

The veteran center has scored at least 32 goals in each of his last four seasons and had five goals and 11 points against the division-champion Thrashers last season.

Tampa Bay was 5-2-1 overall and 3-1-0 at home against Atlanta in 2006-07, but finished four points behind the Thrashers and lost in the first round of the playoffs for the second year in a row .

On Thursday, Martin St. Louis - the Lightning's other top scorer from last season - added three assists. He had 10 assists and 14 points in seven contests against Atlanta last season.

Tampa Bay looks for continued production from its main scoring threats as it tries to start a season with consecutive victories for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2004.

"I felt we got better as a team as the game went on," St. Louis said of Thursday's victory.

Atlanta (0-1-0), meanwhile, looks to bounce back from a 3-1 home loss to Washington on Friday in its season opener.

Rookie Bryan Little became the first Thrashers player to score in his NHL debut, but Atlanta was outshot 40-29 by the Capitals. Ilya Kovalchuk added an assist.

"I thought those two guys were our two best players, by far," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "Little brought lots of energy to our team."

Though Kovalchuk got on the scoresheet, he and last season's leading scorer Marian Hossa will look to provide more offensive opportunities Saturday. The pair combined for 85 goals in 2006-07.

Hossa had four goals and nine points against the Lightning last season. He set career highs with 43 goals, 57 assists and 100 points.

Kari Lehtonen, who is coming off a career-high 34 wins, made 37 saves against the Capitals. He went 3-2-2 with a 2.62 goals-against average against Tampa Bay last season and will look for his third straight victory over the Lightning.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 05 '08 TBL 1 at ATL 4 C. Armstrong
Mar 31 '08 ATL 2 at TBL 0 I. Kovalchuk
Feb 09 '08 TBL 1 at ATL 2 - OT A. Zhitnik
Dec 18 '07 TBL 2 at ATL 6 V. Kozlov
Nov 19 '07 TBL 3 at ATL 4 - OT T. White
Nov 03 '07 ATL 6 at TBL 4 P. Dupuis
Oct 20 '07 ATL 2 at TBL 6 V. Lecavalier
Oct 06 '07 ATL 2 at TBL 5 B. Richards