THRASHERS (28-24-10) at LIGHTNING (26-26-11)
Last 10 --
Atlanta 5-3-2; Tampa Bay 4-6-0
Season series --
Tonight's game at St. Pete Times Forum marks the sixth and final meeting between the clubs this season, with the Lightning holding a 4-1 series edge over their Southeast Division rivals. The two clubs recently squared off Feb. 2 in Atlanta when the Bolts edged out a 2-1 victory thanks to Antero Niittymaki's 26 saves. The victory extended Niittymaki's masterful record against Atlanta to 16-0-0.
Big Story --
It was a relatively slow day for both teams at Wednesday's trade deadline. The Thrashers acquired forward Clarke MacArthur from Buffalo for third- and fourth-round draft picks in June, two days after picking up forward Evgeny Artyukhin from Anaheim in exchange for defenseman Nathan Oystrick and a conditional draft choice in 2011. The Lightning dealt center Jeff Halpern to the Los Angeles Kings for right wing Teddy Purcell
and a 2010 third-round draft choice.
The newest Thrashers, MacArthur and Artyukhin, each made an immediate impact in their debut with the team on Thursday by scoring his first goal with his new team in a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders. Artyukhin's goal was a thing of beauty, as he skated the length of the rink before depositing a forehand on Isles goalie Martin Biron.
Center Steven Stamkos
extended a franchise record by recording a point in his 15th consecutive game, notching the game-tying goal in an eventual 5-4 loss to the Capitals on Thursday. By scoring both goals in a 7-2 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday, Stamkos broke the previous record he shared with Brian Bradley, Vinny Prospal and Martin St. Louis
. During his scoring streak, which is the third longest in the League this season, Stamkos has 13 goals and 26 points.
Who's Hot --
Atlanta's Niclas Bergfors, who turns 23 Sunday, had a goal in Thursday's 6-3 victory against the Islanders, giving him five in seven games since being traded from the New Jersey Devils last month. The Thrashers are 4-1-2 over that span.
Injury Report --
Atlanta defenseman Boris Valabik (knee) will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery on Feb. 11 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. … For the Lightning, defenseman David Hale broke a bone in his right leg while on a conditioning assignment with Norfolk of the American Hockey League on Feb. 3. He's expected to miss between 4-6 weeks.
Stat Pack --
Stamkos, 20, remains tied with Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin for the League's longest active streak at 15 games, and is the youngest player in NHL history to record such a streak.
Puck Drop --
It's Stanley Cup Playoffs or bust for both the Thrashers and the Lightning down the stretch, as each team is gunning for its first playoff berth in three seasons. The Lightning are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference, just three points behind eighth-seeded Atlanta.