NHL Game Night: 10/3 Lightning at Thrashers

Thankfully, tonight was just 1 of 82.

TB-3
ATL-6

Mike Smith allowed 6 goals on 28 shots for the loss. That's not the start to the season you want from your number one goaltender.

First Period
ATL 8:20, Kovalchuk 1 (Little, Kubina)
ATL 11:23, Salmela 1 (Boulton, Thorburn)

Second Period
ATL 9:01, Bogosian 1 (Peverley, Enstrom)
ATL 12:42, Peverley 1 (Kane)
TB 14:01, St. Louis 1 (Hedman, Ohlund)
TB 19:15, St. Louis 2 (Stamkos, Tanguay)(PP)

Third Period
TB 2:11, Meszaros 1 (Walker, Lecavalier)
ATL 11:52, Peverley 2 (Kovalchuk, Afinogenov)
ATL 13:15, Kovalchuk 2 (Little, Enstrom)

The Lightning actually outshot the Thrashers 39-28 in the contest.

It was just an uneven effort from the Lightning. At times they looked fantastic, and the Tanguay line in particular looked magical in terms of puck possession, but it seemed like a couple of bad bounces and the team just did not respond. They couldn't manage much puck possession for about a 10 minute span between the first and second periods. It shouldn't be 4-0 before you start to respond to adversity. I applaud the battle level to get back to 4-3, but it was too little too late.

Kurtis Foster disintegrated on his first shift. Yeah, he was the second defenseman I took on my fantasy team. Guess how happy I am? In general, I thought the Lightning were very loose in the neutral zone and they allowed the Thrashers too much speed through the neutral zone, and the defense struggled with it. The backcheck from the forwards needs to get stronger, and I'd like to see Matt Smaby get in there to throw a few hits at the blueline to try and slow the rush down. Hedman had a couple of plays where he had guys lined up well to slow them down at the blueline, but he doesn't have the killer instinct Smaby has. The Lightning actually outhit the Thrashers 21-10, but overall it seemed like a very soft effort by a Lightning team that had its best successes last season when it raised the intensity level and took the body. Andrej Meszaros, in particular, is a guy who is a far better player when he ups his battle level. Ditto Paul Ranger. Ryan Malone had as many hits as the defensive corps combined tonight. That's great for Ryan but unacceptable for those defensemen if they're serious about taking the next step. More intensity please.

Steve Downie had 2 hits in 14:39. He had some good moments. He started on the Lecavalier line and had a couple of chances early and buried Evander Kane on a hit in the first half of the game, too. He made a handful of decent backchecking plays, also. But, by the third period, he was off the Lecavalier line and down on the checking lines. We'll see how this develops.

Drew Miller was scoreless in 12:59.

Zenon Konopka was -1 with 7 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 6:17. He had a great fight once the Lightning fell behind 4-0 that seemed to wake the Lightning up from their sleepwalking. He contributed something tonight, which is important.

James Wright had 1 shot and 2 hits in 11:53. That third line with Halpern and Miller just didn't seem to do much, even though they were out at key junctures in the game. It's not the kid's fault, but that line in general needs to contribute more.

Victor Hedman got his first NHL assist, but was -2 with 5 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in a team high 26:27. He looked good jumping into the play, and was fairly strong positionally. It was a good debut, despite the minuses.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.