Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning loses season finale to Atlanta Thrashers 6-2

ATLANTA — Jeff Halpern dreads the next two months.

The Lightning's season is over after Saturday night's 6-2 loss to the Thrashers at Philips Arena, and a second straight season out of the postseason is its own kind of agony.

"The best day of the season is when the last Stanley Cup game is over and everybody is back in it," the Tampa Bay center said. "Until then, you've got to watch every guy in the world become a hero just by being in the playoffs.

"You want that opportunity. So as a player, you want to see the team rebound, and you put your faith in management and hope and expect they put the best possible team on the ice."

Give the Lightning this: It played hard against Atlanta with a 35-26 shot advantage and three first-period fights.

Steven Stamkos' 23rd goal upped his team rookie record, and Matt Pettinger got his eighth. But goalie Mike McKenna allowed four goals on 15 shots before being pulled, and the Lightning allowed two power-play goals, one short-handed, and often were pushed to the net by the onrushing Thrashers, who scored three in the second period for a 5-1 lead.

Tampa Bay (24-40-18) lost its ninth straight and finishes 29th in the league with 66 points, its fewest since 2000-01.

"A miserable year," Halpern said.

There were extenuating circumstances. Tampa Bay had 10 players hurt or sick Saturday, 11 for Thursday's home finale, and it lost 353 man games this season, forcing an influx of minor-leaguers.

All six defensemen Saturday spent time with AHL Norfolk.

"Who's kidding who," coach Rick Tocchet said. "A fair amount of players in that room aren't NHL players — right now. It's no slight to anybody. It is what it is."

"Let's put it this way," right wing Marty St. Louis said. "Thursday, I walked into the lounge, and it seemed like there was a whole other team in the room, so we were very thin.

"You hate to see guys being hurt. At the same time, we get young guys in the lineup. You see guys in situations, and you evaluate their progress. That's the only positive I take out of this year. It's going to help us in the long run."

That long run begins during Monday's exit interviews, when, Tocchet said, "we start rolling up our sleeves and getting this team competitive."

Halpern said he has "nothing but respect for guys in this locker room stepping into huge roles that probably shouldn't be asked of them."

That said, "Sixty-six points is not good enough. It has to change."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Thrashers 2 3 1 6
Lightning 1 0 1 2

First Period1, Atlanta, Armstrong 21 (Bogosian, Enstrom), 7:10 (pp). 2, Atlanta, Perrin 7 (Reasoner, Exelby), 16:30 (sh). 3, Tampa Bay, Pettinger 8 (Halpern, Quick), 17:17 (pp). PenaltiesArmstrong, Atl (holding), :43; Melichar, TB (holding), 3:44; Pettinger, TB (holding stick), 5:30; Konopka, TB, major (fighting), 7:32; Boulton, Atl, major (fighting), 7:32; Artyukhin, TB, major (fighting), 7:56; Thorburn, Atl, major (fighting), 7:56; Pettinger, TB, major (fighting), 10:24; Bogosian, Atl, major (fighting), 10:24; St. Louis, TB (goaltender interference), 11:14; Slater, Atl (goaltender interference), 16:02; Boulton, Atl (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:41; Stamkos, TB (holding), 19:22.

Second Period4, Atlanta, Kovalchuk 43 (White, Hainsey), 9:15. 5, Atlanta, Hainsey 6 (Peverley), 14:09 (pp). 6, Atlanta, Armstrong 22 (Kozlov, Peverley), 16:32. PenaltiesProspal, TB (slashing), 14:06; Oystrick, Atl (interference), 16:46.

Third Period7, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 23, :46. 8, Atlanta, Stuart 5 (Reasoner), 6:20. PenaltiesKonopka, TB (high-sticking), 9:50; Pettinger, TB (slashing), 11:43; Perrin, Atl (goaltender interference), 14:12. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 13-9-13—35. Atlanta 7-9-10—26. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 5; Atlanta 2 of 7. GoaliesTampa Bay, McKenna 4-8-1 (15 shots-11 saves), Ramo (14:09 second, 11-9). Atlanta, Lehtonen 19-22-3 (35-33). A17,122 (18,545).

Thrashers 6

Lightning 2

Tampa Bay Lightning loses season finale to Atlanta Thrashers 6-2 04/11/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 12, 2009 7:11am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Illinois is recruiting a 10-year-old. Where will Lovie Smith be by the time the kid can sign?

    Blogs

    Today in ridiculous recruiting news, Lovie Smith's Illinois football team offered a scholarship to a 10-year-old.

  2. Rays series preview: Who are the Orioles?

    Blogs

    After an off day Thursday, the Rays remain at Tropicana Field for a three-game series against the AL East rival Orioles. Here's the information you need to know about Baltimore before the action kicks off.

    Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman, left, has posted the highest ERA of his career this season, while catcher Welington Castillo, center, has slumped recently.
  3. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.
  4. Morning after off day: Rays ready for slumping O's

    Blogs

    The Rays will attempt tonight to do what so far has been impossible this season: climb four games above .500.

    The Rays expect Evan Longoria to be back in the lineup for tonight's game.
  5. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh

    Soccer

    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.