ATLANTA (AP) _ Vincent Lecavalier had the perfect answer for Marc Savard's
``I hadn't scored on a breakaway in a long time,'' Lecavalier said. ``If you
don't score on a breakaway, it does something to your confidence.''
Lecavalier sneaked behind the Atlanta defense with 1:24 remaining for his
second goal Wednesday night and the streaking Tampa Bay Lightning beat the
Tampa Bay won at Philips Arena for the first time in eight games. Brad
Richards scored early in the third period, Cory Stillman added an empty-net
goal and Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 23 shots.
But Savard beat Khabibulin with an 8-foot wrist shot from the left circle
after Shawn McEachern passed the puck across the slot on a power play with
``We can't lose games in the last minute,'' Savard said. ``We work all year
on defensive zone, and that's where you've got to come up big.''
More than 11 minutes after Savard's 19th goal, Lecavalier knew the window
was open once he saw the Thrashers try to pin Martin St. Louis against the
boards. He was skating toward the slot when St. Louis fed him with a pass from
``I was hoping he would get it to me, and he did,'' Lecavalier said. ``I
wasn't sure what the puck would do.''
Earning his 26th point in the last 18 games, Lecavalier faked out Pasi
Nurminen with a 17-foot wrist shot that beat the goaltender on his stick side.
The Lightning improved to 11-2-0-3 in their last 16 road games. Tampa Bay has
lost in regulation just twice in 24 games overall.
Atlanta fell to 5-18-3-1 since beating the Lightning 3-1 on Dec. 26. The
Thrashers had an eight-point lead over Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division
after that game, but now trail the Lightning by 22 points. In that same time
span, Tampa Bay is 19-5-2-4.
Lecavalier made it 1-0 by putting in his own rebound on the right side of
the crease in the first period.
``It was great to get our two points and get out of here,'' Lecavalier said.
``We've had trouble against them.''
Atlanta forward Ilya Kovalchuk, tied with Columbus' Rick Nash for the NHL
lead in goals (33), missed both of his shots. Kovalchuk entered with four goals
and three assists in his last four games.
Ben Simon's third goal made it 1-1 four minutes after Lecavalier opened the
scoring. Skating toward the right side of the crease, Simon wristed in a
rebound after Khabibulin stopped Shawn Heins' wraparound.
Arguably Khabibulin's best stop came against Kovalchuk. With defenseman Dan
Boyle helping to push Kovalchuk away from the goal, Khabibulin reached to his
right to stop the shot from the left circle with 3:04 remaining.
``There was one of our defensemen he had to go around, so that gave me some
time,'' Khabibulin said. ``He made a great shot, but it kind of hit me in the
Khabibulin improved to 18-15-6 and won for the second straight night,
following a 6-3 victory at Washington. Nurminen fell to 20-23-5.