GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (14-11-5-1) at Atlanta Thrashers (18-14-3-1).
TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
Vincent Lecavalier angered his coach during the last game, and was benched.
Lecavalier now hopes to get more ice time when the struggling Tampa Bay
Lightning visit the first-place Atlanta Thrashers.
Lecavalier, who has just 19 points this season, was benched during the
second period of Tuesday's 1-1 tie in Boston after failing to comply with coach
John Tortorella's shoot-early-and-often mandate.
The Lightning have scored just 72 goals in 31 games, ahead of only lowly
Carolina (61) and Pittsburgh (70) in the Eastern Conference.
Against Boston, Lecavalier did not shoot the puck during an early
three-on-two and was punished for it.
"An awful call," Lecavalier said of Tortorella's decision. "Offensively,
I go with my instincts. If I think the play is to make a play, that's what I
do. It didn't work out. I'm just going to keep playing hard. If I get benched
for it, that's fine."
Tortorella saw it a different way.
"Interesting. It wasn't the proper call?" he said. "Let's forget about
the backhanded turnover. Let's talk about trying to play hard. He's got to
start playing in the team concept. I don't care who he is or who he thinks he
The Lightning have forgotten who they are since their 11-2-2-1 start,
winning just three of their last 15 (3-9-3) dating to a three-game winning
streak from Nov. 14-22.
Despite getting shut out three straight games earlier this month, the
Thrashers have been among the league's best at putting the puck in the net,
sitting second only to Detroit (124) in the NHL with 109.
Since getting outscored a combined 12-0 in losses to the New York Islanders,
Washington and New Jersey, the Thrashers have netted 11 goals in wins over
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
In Sunday's 4-1 victory over the Flyers, Ronald Petrovicky scored twice,
Ilya Kovalchuk added his 21st goal and Slava Kozlov also scored for the
"We've had a good first half of the season, but we can't hang our hat on
that," goaltender Byron Dafoe said. "Points are harder to get in the second