Tampa Bay

Game Recap

Thrashers 4, Lightning 1

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:52 AM

Associated Press

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Thrashers 4, Lightning 1
Tampa Bay Lightning 1, Atlanta Thrashers 4

ATLANTA (AP) -Ending the season with a victory was no consolation to Kari Lehtonen.

When the Atlanta Thrashers reported to training camp, their No. 1 goaltender thought his team was a lock to return to the playoffs.

"It's sad. The way we played all year, we should be glad it's over," Lehtonen said. "It's really hard right now."

Colby Armstrong scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period and the Thrashers added two empty-netters in the final minute of a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

The Lightning, who tied Los Angeles with an NHL-low 71 points, finished in last place to give them the best chance of winning the draft lottery this summer.

For an eighth-year veteran such as Martin St. Louis, it was too soon to look ahead and discount Tampa Bay's terrible season, not after the Lightning are missing the playoffs after four straight appearances.

"We dug ourselves a hole," St. Louis said. "This year, there were expectations for a good season. For some reason, we couldn't put it together."

Atlanta, another lottery team, wasn't much better. The Thrashers, with 76 points, had the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, finished 29th overall. The St. Louis Blues, 3-0 winners Saturday over Columbus, have 77 points with one game remaining.

Bobby Holik's 15th goal gave the Thrashers a 1-0 lead with a wrister from the left circle 5:48 into the first.

Mathieu Darche tied it with his seventh goal. Moving into the crease to block Lehtonen's view on the power play, Darche redirected Filip Kuba's shot from the right circle 3:50 into the second.

Armstrong's 13th goal, coming on a wraparound that beat the glove side of goalie Mike Smith, made it 2-1.

Jim Slater and Bryan Little scored the empty-netters.

Lehtonen stopped 30 of 31 shots to improve to 17-22-5, while Smith dropped to 15-19-0.

"When things go bad, it's just bad," Smith said. "It was a meaningless game, but the guys played their hearts out."

Tampa Bay was by far the NHL's worst team on the road, going 11-24-6. Atlanta ranked 28th in home games, going 19-19-3

This season marked the third time the Lightning had the NHL's worst record, but first since 1998-99.

Lehtonen believes the Thrashers shouldn't feel much better about their performance, even though he was pleased that his defense continued to play hard.

"We took a couple of penalties in the second, but we were able to hang in there," Lehtonen said. "It's a lot more fun to get the win."

Atlanta coach Don Waddell is expected to step down and perhaps turn the job over to top assistant Brad McCrimmon. Waddell likely will return as general manager.

"It was a disappointing season," he said. "It is important to give our young guys ice time to help our future. Kari was solid tonight, and we think we have a bunch of good, young players. I think we'll be in good position to add some youth next year."

Notes: Vincent Lecavalier, picked No. 1 overall after Tampa Bay took last place the year before, didn't travel with the team to Atlanta after suffering a dislocated shoulder and a torn labrum Thursday in Washington. He soon will undergo surgery that will require 12-15 weeks of rehab. ... Each team had just two victories in its previous nine games, but the Thrashers won two of three, both coming against Tampa Bay. ... The Lightning ended the season with four straight losses.

scoring summary
1st Period
Bobby Holik (15) ASST: Ilya Kovalchuk (35), Chris Thorburn (13)
1 - 0 ATL
2nd Period
PPG - Mathieu Darche (7) ASST: Filip Kuba (25), Dan Boyle (21)
1 - 1 Tie
3rd Period
Colby Armstrong (13) ASST: Garnet Exelby (5), Eric Perrin (32)
2 - 1 ATL
EN - Jim Slater (8) ASST: Colby Armstrong (22), Eric Perrin (33)
3 - 1 ATL
Bryan Little (6) ASST: Mark Recchi (34), Vyacheslav Kozlov (24)
4 - 1 ATL
Power Play Stats
Power Plays1/20/3
Power Play %19.1%14.3%
% on Road14.3%16.2%
% at Home24.2%12.1%
League Rank16th27th
penalty summary
1st Period
Matt Smaby  Tripping against  Colby Armstrong
2nd Period
Brad Larsen  Hi-sticking against  Matt Smaby
Niclas Havelid  Hi-sticking against  Mathieu Darche
3rd Period
Nick Tarnasky  Interference against  Garnet Exelby
Nick Tarnasky  Roughing against  Colby Armstrong
Nick Tarnasky  Unsportsmanlike conduct against  Colby Armstrong
Colby Armstrong  Roughing against  Nick Tarnasky
goalie stats
Mike Smith
SA: 23TOI: 59:08
Saves: 20EV: 15 - 18
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 5
SV%: .870SH: 0 - 0
Kari Lehtonen
SA: 31TOI: 60:00
Saves: 30EV: 25 - 25
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 6
SV%: .968SH: 0 - 0