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Lightning-Thrashers Preview @NHL
Lightning-Thrashers Preview

GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (7-8-2) at Atlanta Thrashers (5-9-1).

TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Atlanta Thrashers finally appear to have figured out a way to avoid giving up power-play goals: Cut down on penalties.

The Thrashers will try to continue their disciplined approach when they host the slumping Tampa Bay Lightning.

After losing seven of eight to close October while struggling with one of the league's worst penalty-killing units, the Thrashers have come on a bit in November, going 2-2 with a pair of one-goal losses, including one in overtime.

On Wednesday, Atlanta played its best game of the season in a 5-0 rout of visiting Pittsburgh. Mike Dunham stopped 24 shots and the Thrashers took just three penalties, killing each off en route to their first shutout win of the season.

"Discipline is such a key factor in the way that hockey has been played in this league so far," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said.

"We played with a lead and we played with confidence. When you stay away from the box, you even out the playing time so much better. You prevent guys from getting in there and losing too much momentum."

The Thrashers, 27th out of 30 teams on the penalty kill, have allowed 25 power-play goals, the fourth-most in the league entering play Thursday.

"It was nice to get a shutout but I think it's more important that we played a solid 60-minute game," Dunham said. "We needed something to go our way, and tonight it did."

The defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning lost their fifth straight Wednesday, dropping a 4-2 decision to the New York Rangers.

Vincent Lecavalier and Dan Boyle scored for Tampa Bay, which is on its longest losing streak since dropping six straight from March 24-April 3, 2002.

"Until we decide to get back to the details of the game and be consistent with our effort in the details, we will not get out of this," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We may win a couple here and there, but we will not be the team that we should be."

Vinny Prospal assisted on Lecavalier's goal, giving him eight assists and 12 points during an eight-game points streak.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 10): Lightning - 16 points, 2nd place, 7 PB, Southeast Division. Thrashers - 11 points, 5th place, 12 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Lecavalier, 11 goals; Prospal, 13 assists and 22 points; Pavel Kubina, 28 PIM. Thrashers - Peter Bondra, 8 goals; Marian Hossa and Marc Savard, 11 assists; Hossa, 18 points; Eric Boulton and Andy Sutton, 40 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 10): Lightning - Power play: 13.1 percent (15 for 114), 27th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.6 percent (78 for 90), 5th. Thrashers - Power play: 21.3 percent (23 for 108), 5th. Penalty killing: 76.6 percent (82 for 107), 28th.

GOALTENDERS: Lightning - John Grahame (5-6-1, 1 SO, 2.78 GAA); Gerald Coleman (no record). Thrashers - Dunham (3-3-1, 1, 2.22); Steve Shields (1-2-0, 4.69).

SEASON SERIES: Lightning, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 29; Lightning, 3-2. At Atlanta, Fredrik Modin had two goals, including the game-winner, as Tampa Bay rallied from an early 2-0 deficit.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Lightning - 4-4-1 on the road; Thrashers - 3-4-0 at home.

Associated Press

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