Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Niittymaki improves to 16-0 against Atlanta as Tampa Bay wins 2-1

Lightning goaltender Antero Niittymaki makes a save in the third period, one of his 26 total.

Associated Press

Lightning goaltender Antero Niittymaki makes a save in the third period, one of his 26 total.

ATLANTA — Antero Niittymaki knew there was someone in the Lightning locker room he had to thank, but didn't know where to start.

The goaltender earned a 2-1 victory Tuesday night at Philips Arena to run his improbable record against the Thrashers to 16-0-0.

But there was one save, with three seconds left in the second period, Niittymaki did not make. Rather, it was defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who stopped Pavel Kubina's shot with Niittymaki down and out of position after making a save.

"It was Mez?" Niittymaki said of the save that preserved the 2-1 lead. "I know it didn't hit me. I'll take it."

So will Tampa Bay (23-21-11), which was dominated in terms of puck possession, but blocked 22 shots to add to Niittymaki's 26 saves to hang on after first-period goals by Stephane Veilleux and Marty St. Louis built a 2-0 lead.

"It was huge," Niittymaki said of the win that elevated the Lightning, with 57 points, into a tie for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"A gutty win," coach Rick Tocchet said, "because a lot of things could have went wrong."

What went right was Niittymaki, whose streak against the Thrashers is the second longest active by a goalie against an opponent behind Chris Osgood's 17-0-0 against Tampa Bay.

There was the save on Maxim Afinogenov's breakaway 5:20 into the game after Meszaros coughed up the puck. There were stunning bang-bang saves on Nik Antropov and Rich Peverley at the end of Atlanta's second-period five-on-three.

And stopping Ilya Kovalchuk's spin-o-rama from the slot early in the third was no picnic either.

"An amazing record," Tocchet said of Niittymaki's streak against Atlanta. "There must be some rich guys in Vegas or something. That's incredible."

"The last few games against these guys I haven't thought about the streak at all," Niittymaki said. "You know it's there, but this was a huge game for the team. I use that for motivation other than the personal thing."

More good stuff for Tampa Bay included St. Louis' 17th goal that made the score 2-0 with 7:17 left in the first period after puck-on-a-string passing among he and linemates Steven Stamkos and Steve Downie.

Tocchet called the 22 blocked shots, which gave the team 46 in its past two games, "desperate, passion, playoff hockey."

Meszaros was in the right place (in front of the net) at the right time (as Kubina shot).

"It hit my leg," Meszaros said.

Niittymaki took it from there.

Lightning 2 0 0 2
at Thrashers 0 1 0 1

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Veilleux 3 (Tanguay, Lecavalier), 9:37. 2, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 17 (Stamkos, Downie), 12:43. PenaltyAtlanta bench, served by Antropov (too many men), 17:35.

Second Period3, Atlanta, White 5 (Popovic, Afinogenov), 2:46. PenaltiesVeilleux, TB (hooking), 5:21; Tampa Bay bench, served by Fedoruk (too many men), 6:54; Bogosian, Atl (holding), 13:36; Kubina, Atl (holding), 17:44.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesStamkos, TB (tripping), 8:44; Downie, TB (roughing), 11:46; Kane, Atl (roughing), 11:46. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 7-6-11—24. Atlanta 7-11-9—27. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 0 of 3; Atlanta 0 of 3. GoaliesTampa Bay, Niittymaki 13-9-5 (27 shots-26 saves). Atlanta, Pavelec 12-14-4 (24-22). A11,390 (18,545). T2:19. Referees—Wes McCauley, Ian Walsh. LinesmenScott Driscoll, Don Henderson.

Lightning 2

Thrashers 1

Niittymaki improves to 16-0 against Atlanta as Tampa Bay wins 2-1 02/02/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 2, 2010 11:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Black Snell continues roll with another win (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by Cubs LF Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in going seven scoreless innings.
  2. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) takes the field to start the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.

  4. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    This is a 2017 photo of Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  5. Bucs journal: Bucs still high on Vikings RB Dalvin Cook


    TAMPA — Coach Dirk Koetter spent a lot of time before this year's draft evaluating RB Dalvin Cook. At one time, the Florida State star and former teammate of QB Jameis Winston was considered the player the Bucs most likely would draft 19th overall.

    Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook (33), a standout at Florida State, is third in the league in rushing after two games and fourth in average yards per game.