TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella is not surprised by Vinny Prospal's early-season success.
Prospal and Brad Richards had two goals each to lead the Lightning to a 5-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night.
Prospal scored his second of goal of the game, and third this season, when he redirected Martin St. Louis' shot to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead during a power play with 5:22 left in the second period.
"I expect a huge year out of Vinny Prospal," Tortorella said. "You can just sense it."
Prospal struggled last season, scoring just 14 goals in 82 games.
"I just didn't want to go through what I went through last year," Prospal said. "Everybody struggles, but it's always easier when you get to the point in the season when you have something to look back to. Last year, from the beginning, I didn't really have anything to look back to. For the team, for me personally, it's always great when we get off to a good start like this."
Richards scored a short-handed goal later in the second and added a power-play goal in the third.
Vincent Lecavalier also scored for Tampa Bay, which has opened the season 2-0 for just the third team in team history. Johan Holmqvist made 13 saves.
"I know it's early in the season, but I really liked how all four lines are really playing with a lot of tempo," Richards said. "I haven't seen that in a while here."
The defending Southeast Division champion Thrashers got goals from Marian Hossa and Slava Kozlov, while Johan Hedberg stopped 29 shots. Atlanta has started the season by losing two straight, getting outscored 8-3.
"It's not the game that we wanted," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "They took control of the game right from the start. It's not the start we want, but there's still plenty of hockey to be played."
Richards' short-handed breakaway goal made it 3-1 with 4:11 left in the second. Tampa Bay outshot the Thrashers 24-9 though two periods.
Lecavalier, who led the NHL with 52 goals last season, extended the Lightning's advantage to 4-1 on his third goal of the season at 5:22 of the third. Kozlov's power-play goal with 11:02 left cut Atlanta's deficit to 4-2.
Richards gave Tampa Bay a three-goal cushion with his man-advantage goal with 4:49 left.
Prospal put the Lightning ahead 1-0 from the low slot off a pass from Lecavalier at 3:40 of the first. Lecavalier had six shots, including three good scoring chances during the final 4 minutes of the period.
Hossa tied it at 1-all just 57 seconds into the second. He stole the puck from Tampa Bay defenseman Paul Ranger and scored on a breakaway.
"Right now we're getting outworked," Hossa said. "It's going to take a little time to adjust, we've got lots of new guys and we're trying to find the chemistry on the lines."
Notes: Prospal has 13 goals and 42 points in 37 games against Atlanta. ... Hossa has scored 20 goals and 45 points in 41 games against Tampa Bay.
|Vinny Prospal (2) ASST: Vincent Lecavalier (1), Paul Ranger (2)|
1 - 0 TBL
|Marian Hossa (1) ASST: NONE|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Vinny Prospal (3) ASST: Martin St. Louis (4), Filip Kuba (2)|
2 - 1 TBL
|SHG - Brad Richards (1) ASST: NONE|
3 - 1 TBL
|Vincent Lecavalier (3) ASST: NONE|
4 - 1 TBL
|PPG - Vyacheslav Kozlov (1) ASST: Toby Enstrom (1), Todd White (1)|
4 - 2 TBL
|PPG - Brad Richards (2) ASST: Martin St. Louis (5), Filip Kuba (3)|
5 - 2 TBL
|Eric Perrin Tripping against Brad Richards|
|Niclas Havelid Holding against Jan Hlavac|
|Vinny Prospal Hooking against Vyacheslav Kozlov|
|Toby Enstrom Holding against Brad Richards|
|Paul Ranger Hooking against Marian Hossa|
|Jan Hlavac Hooking against Ken Klee|
|Todd White Hooking against Brad Richards|
|Shane O'Brien Hooking against Bryan Little|
|Bryan Little Tripping against Michel Ouellet|
|Brett Sterling Hooking against Nick Tarnasky|