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 opener to Atlanta Thrashers 6-3

ATLANTA — Lightning goaltender Mike Smith knows coach Rick Tocchet's edict to keep emotions in check.

Win or lose, good game or bad, the coach said, "We have to stay on an even keel."

Still, there was Smith after Saturday night's season-opening 6-3 loss to the Thrashers at Philips Arena, talking about "a hard loss to swallow" and bemoaning his play.

"The bounces went their way," Smith said. "But the bottom line is, bounces or not, you've got to find a way to make some saves. You make a couple saves here and there, and it's a different game."

Speaking of different, just six days after dominating the Thrashers in its preseason finale, Tampa Bay was too loose defensively and allowed Atlanta too much speed through the neutral zone, especially Ilya Kovalchuk, who had two goals and three points.

And, man, did some bounces go the wrong way.

Defenseman Paul Ranger inadvertently shot the puck into his own net for Atlanta's first goal after Kovalchuk's backhand rebounded into the slot after a Smith save.

Defenseman Mattias Ohlund, trying to clear the puck away from Zach Bogosian, pushed it onto Bogosian's stick, and Bogosian pushed it through Smith's legs.

Even good plays blew up. Smith's smart poke check of Evander Kane sent the puck to uncovered Rich Peverley, who scored to make it 4-0 with 8:18 left in the second period.

"There was some strange stuff out there," center Jeff Halpern said. "But weird plays can happen when you give them so many chances."

Tampa Bay had chances, too, outshooting Atlanta 39-28 to give goalie Ondrej Pavelec a workout.

But as Halpern said, "We don't want to trade chances with anyone. It's just not how you win when you give up chance after chance."

Tampa Bay made a game of it as Marty St. Louis scored twice late in the second period and Andrej Meszaros 2:11 into the third to make it 4-3.

But Peverley scored on the power play to restore the two-goal lead with 9:08 remaining and Ranger in the penalty box for hooking.

"Range has a bad penalty you can't take in that situation," Tocchet said.

What the coach wanted his players to take postgame was a breath.

"We can't let this first game dictate how our season will go," St. Louis said. "We did a lot of good things. … We just have to correct the negative."

"It's a long year," Smith said. "Try to get over it quickly."

Thrashers 2 2 2 6
Lightning 0 2 1 3

First Period1, Atlanta, Kovalchuk 1 (Little, Kubina), 8:20. 2, Atlanta, Salmela 1 (Boulton, Thorburn), 11:23. PenaltiesTanguay, TB (high-sticking), 1:12; Meszaros, TB (holding), 15:14; Afinogenov, Atl (holding), 15:14; Foster, TB (tripping), 18:54.

Second Period3, Atlanta, Bogosian 1 (Peverley, Enstrom), 9:01. 4, Atlanta, Peverley 1 (Kane), 12:42. 5, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 1 (Hedman, Ohlund), 14:01. 6, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 2 (Stamkos, Tanguay), 19:15 (pp). PenaltiesFedoruk, TB (cross-checking), 7:44; Veilleux, TB (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:44; Kovalchuk, Atl (slashing), 7:44; Popovic, Atl (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:44; Konopka, TB, major (fighting), 13:11; Thorburn, Atl, major (fighting), 13:11; Kubina, Atl (holding), 17:42; Malone, TB (cross-checking), 18:05; Kovalchuk, Atl (hooking), 18:31.

Third Period7, Tampa Bay, Meszaros 1 (Walker, Lecavalier), 2:11. 8, Atlanta, Peverley 2 (Kovalchuk, Afinogenov), 11:52 (pp). 9, Atlanta, Kovalchuk 2 (Little, Enstrom), 13:15. PenaltiesFedoruk, TB, major (fighting), 4:52; Boulton, Atl, major (fighting), 4:52; Salmela, Atl (roughing), 5:24; Ranger, TB (hooking), 10:06; Veilleux, TB, misconduct, 13:47; Konopka, TB (roughing), 13:47; White, Atl (roughing), 13:47. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 12-13-14—39. Atlanta 8-10-10—28. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 3; Atlanta 1 of 2. GoaliesTampa Bay, Smith 0-1-0 (28 shots-22 saves). Atlanta, Pavelec 1-0-0 (39-36).

Thrashers 6

Lightning 3

Tampa Bay Lightning loses season opener to Atlanta Thrashers 6-3 10/03/09 [Last modified: Sunday, October 4, 2009 9:39am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  2. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  3. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  4. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.
  5. Rays up next: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: Off

    Up next: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field.