TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—The Atlanta Thrashers had the Lightning right where they wanted them Saturday night—on Florida ice.
Slava Kozlov scored the only shootout goal in Atlanta’s 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay. The Thrashers have won nine of the last 11 games in the series, including four of the last five in Tampa.
Kozlov, Ilya Kovalchuk and Todd White each had a goal and an assist in regulation for the Thrashers, who have won seven of their last nine games in a stretch that began with a franchise-record six victories in a row.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has lost six consecutive home games and nine of its last 10. The Lightning are 3-10 in shootouts.
“We’re not getting balanced scoring right now, so that’s kind of tough on the team,” Tampa Bay interim coach Rick Tocchet said. “You have to rely on basically one line all the time.”
Goalie Johan Hedberg improved Atlanta’s shootout mark to 6-1, stopping attempts by Steven Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. At the other end, Karri Ramo shut down Bryan Little before Kozlov netted the winner.
“They know what I can do by now, so they got some advice from the coaches,” Kozlov said of his shootout goal. “But I just had to read the goalie and there’s going to be something open, and I found the five hole.”
Kozlov has 22 goals and 44 assists this season.
“We’re getting him to shoot more, thank goodness, and you can see the results of that,” coach John Anderson said. “The hardest thing about him to defend is that he never does the same thing twice.”
Kozlov opened the scoring 6:12 into the game. White made it 2-0 during a two-man advantage late in the first period, when the Thrashers took 19 shots.
White has at least a point in nine straight games. His career-high 66 points include three goals and two assists in five games against Tampa Bay.
Early in the second period, Stamkos beat Hedberg twice in 82 seconds to pull the Lightning even. The top overall pick in the 2008 draft has eight goals and five assists in his last 12 games.
St. Louis helped set up the first Stamkos goal, extending his point streak to eight games. Tampa Bay’s leading scorer has five goals and six assists in that span.
Kovalchuk put the Thrashers ahead 3-2 on a power play at 12:52 of the second, but Vinny Prospal tied it less than three minutes later.
Ramo finished with 33 saves. Hedberg had 26.
Kozlov has 38 points on the power play, second to NHL leader Alex Ovechkin. … St. Louis has four goals and three assists against Atlanta this season. … The Lightning scratched D Marek Malik and D Cory Murphy because of foot injuries. … Thrashers C Jim Slater and D Boris Valabik were sidelined with shoulder problems. … Atlanta has allowed 15 goals in its last three games.