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Thrashers-Lightning Preview @NHL
Thrashers-Lightning Preview

GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (3-8-0) at Tampa Bay Lightning (7-3-2).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Atlanta Thrashers goaltender Mike Dunham is expected to be in net Tuesday for the first time after missing six games with a groin injury. He may want to face a different opponent.

Dunham looks for his first win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in nearly five years when the teams meet at the St. Pete Times Forum in the back end of a home-and-home series.

Dunham has lost his last six starts against Tampa Bay since a 3-2 victory on Feb. 18, 2001, when he was a member of the Nashville Predators. He is 4-7-1 with a 2.62 goals-against average lifetime against the Lightning.

Dunham, expected to spend this season as a backup to highly touted Kari Lehtonen, was pressed into a starting role when Lehtonen went down in the season opener Oct. 5 with a groin injury.

Dunham, though, was injured a week later against the Montreal Canadiens, forcing Atlanta to use untested rookies Adam Berkhoel and Michael Garnett in net.

Atlanta finally got some veteran help when it signed Steve Shields on Thursday, but he has allowed 10 goals on 53 shots in a pair of losses.

Shields stopped 20 shots in a 3-2 loss to the Lightning on Saturday, the Thrashers' seventh defeat in eight games.

Atlanta has a 4.88 goals-against average in those eight contests and its goalies rank last in the NHL in save percentage (.857).

Thrashers coach Bob Hartley knows his team will have to get better goaltending to improve.

"Look at the best teams: Nashville has (Tomas) Vokoun, Ottawa, by far the best team in the league, and people wondered about (Dominik) Hasek's age and he is playing like a rookie," he said. "Special teams and goaltending, I've said from the first day will be the difference."

Meanwhile, the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning have rebounded from a slow start to win three straight and four of their last five games.

Fredrik Modin scored twice in Saturday's win over the Thrashers, giving him three goals and an assist during the three-game streak.

Vincent Lecavlier has two goals and three assists and Martin St. Louis two goals and two assists during respective three-game points streaks.

The Lightning have held opponents to 15 or fewer shots three times this season, including a 6-0 shutout of Atlanta on Oct. 20.

STANDINGS: Thrashers - 6 points, 5th place, 11 PB, Southeast Division. Lightning - 16 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Thrashers - Marc Savard, 5 goals and 14 points; Savard and Marian Hossa, 9 assists; Eric Boulton and Andy Sutton, 38 PIM. Lightning - Lecavalier, Vaclav Prospal and Modin, 7 goals; Brad Richards, 10 assists; Lecavalier and Prospal, 15 points; Pavel Kubina, 22 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Thrashers - Power play: 19 percent (16 for 84), 11th in NHL. Penalty killing: 74.4 percent (67 for 90), 30th. Lightning - Power play: 12 percent (10 for 83), 28th. Penalty killing: 95.1 percent (59 for 62), 1st.

GOALTENDERS: Thrashers - Dunham (2-2-0, 0 SO, 2.51 GAA); Shields (0-2-0, 5.04). Lightning - John Grahame (5-3-1, 1, 2.25); Sean Burke (2-0-1, 1.56 GAA)

SEASON SERIES: Lightning, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 29; Lightning, 3-2. At Atlanta, the Thrashers jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Lightning tied it with two second-period goals and won it on Modin's deflection at 7:03 of the third.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Thrashers - 1-4-0 on the road; Lightning - 3-2-1 at home.

Associated Press
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