The Tampa Bay Lightning opened a “New Era” with a hard fought 5-3 victory against the Atlanta Thrashers in front of 19,791 at the St Pete Time Forum.
Steven Stamkos lead the team with two goals and an assist; as the Bolts came out and dominated the first 25 minutes of the game, opening a 4-0 lead and outshooting the Thrashers 26-16.
The Lightning then began a parade to the penalty box midway thru the second period; as they took six penalties in the period, including giving Atlanta a 5-on-3 power play which lead to Tobias Enstrom scoring his first of the season. Ben Eager lit the lamp to make it 4-2 at the end of the second period, you could sense that the Lightning headed into the second intermission clearly back on their heels.
After Atlanta closed the gap to 4-3, Stamkos finally gave the Lightning the breathing room they needed, as he tipped in his second goal of the game to give the team a 5-3 advantage.
“I want to put himself in position to make things happen for the team,” Stamkos said after the game.
Both of Stamkos’ goals were scored with his back to the net. Head Coach Guy Boucher was not surprised that Stamkos was able to score in that fashion as he showed the team a video of the goals that the young superstars scores. Boucher stated that Stamkos puts himself in position to scores those goals that are in the hard places those places that hurt when you score them.
Numerous players felt after the game that they relaxed a little when they were up by four goals.
“That it’s human nature to relax when you are up by that many goals,” Boucher said.
Boucher preaches about wanting his team to play 60 relentless minutes of hockey. The team still has a lot of work to do to accomplish the coaches goal as he only got about 25 relentless minutes tonight.
While this was far from a perfect game, the Lightning showed flashes of dominance that should lend them well in the future as they continue to get more comfortable with the new system they are running. The team now heads out on a three game road trip with the first game in Montreal Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.
Steve Downie and Vinnie Lecavalier both scored their first goals of the season on the power play with Dominic Moore scoring his first of the year at even strength.
Tampa was 2-for-5 on the power play while Atlanta was 1-for-7.
Tampa led the final shot totals 36-30.