TAMPA — On a night the Lightning appeared intent on sticking to its free fall, there was hope.
Tampa Bay saw its prized rookie breathe life into his teammates, rallying them with a pair of second-period goals when they were down 2-0 and giving them a chance to win. This was the Steven Stamkos that Tampa Bay envisioned when it selected him with the top draft pick last summer.
But Atlanta turned the night into a big one for veteran Vyacheslav Kozlov, who scored once in regulation and the only goal in a shootout to give the Thrashers a 4-3 win in front of an announced 15,391 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Kozlov also had an assist.
Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis were stuffed by Atlanta goalie Johan Hedberg in the shootout.
"I've got to give Tampa credit. They fought back," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "It wasn't like they laid down for us."
Tampa Bay (23-33-16), 3-10 in shootouts, has lost six consecutive home games and nine of its past 10. But it showed promise Saturday — after a dismal first period.
Atlanta (30-37-6) outshot the Lightning 19-7 in the first 20 minutes and took a 1-0 lead 6:12 in when Kozlov ripped the puck past goalie Karri Ramo, who finished with 33 saves.
Atlanta then scored on one of four first-period power plays when Kozlov fed center Todd White, who shot to Ramo's right for a 2-0 lead at 17:49.
"We couldn't get a chance to get into the game because of the penalties," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "Trying to kill 10 minutes of penalties is tough on any team."
Stamkos tied it with back-to-back goals. St. Louis' assist on the first goal continued his point streak to eight games; he has 11 points in that span.
Atlanta captain Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 12th goal in his past 17 games for a 3-2 lead. The Lightning answered less than four minutes later with its second power-play goal, this one off the stick of Vinny Prospal to pull the Lightning even at 3.
Before the game, Stamkos said he felt great these days and had "all the confidence in the world" after a rough start to his season. His 17th and 18th goals put him within striking distance of the franchise rookie mark set by Brad Richards, 21 in 2000-01.
"It's definitely on my radar," Stamkos said. "One of my goals in the last (10 games) is to get to the 20-goal mark. … That would be pretty satisfying to get that, but my focus is to continue improving every game."
Stamkos has eight goals in his past 12 games, along with 20 assists for 38 points.
"At the beginning of the year things weren't going too well," Stamkos said. "Maybe I did think that (20 goals) was out of the question. But things are going well, and I'm starting to play a lot."
|Thrashers win shootout 1-0|
First Period—1, Atlanta, Kozlov 22 (Enstrom, Armstrong), 6:12. 2, Atlanta, White 20 (Kozlov, Kovalchuk), 17:49 (pp). Penalties—Enstrom, Atl (hooking), 1:48; Petiot, TB (hooking), 8:32; Halpern, TB (hooking), 10:04; Smaby, TB (hooking), 16:26; Petiot, TB (tripping), 17:21.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 17 (Krajicek, St. Louis), 3:50. 4, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 18 (Lashoff, Lecavalier), 5:12 (pp). 5, Atlanta, Kovalchuk 37 (White, Enstrom), 12:52 (pp). 6, Tampa Bay, Prospal 18 (Krajicek), 15:36 (pp). Penalties—Peverley, Atl (hooking), 5:02; Stuart, Atl (boarding), 9:13; Pettinger, TB (hooking), 12:14; Peverley, Atl (hooking), 13:43; Lashoff, TB (delay of game), 18:40.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Kozlov, Atl (delay of game), 3:38; Thorburn, Atl (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:33; Koci, TB (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:33.
Overtime—None. Penalties—Hainsey, Atl (roughing), 4:47; Petiot, TB (roughing), 4:47.
Shootout—Atlanta 1 (Little NG, Kozlov G), Tampa Bay 0 (Stamkos NG, Lecavalier NG, St. Louis NG). Shots on Goal—Atlanta 19-3-10-4—36. Tampa Bay 7-12-9-1—29. Power-play opportunities—Atlanta 2 of 6; Tampa Bay 2 of 5. Goalies—Atlanta, Hedberg 9-10-3 (29 shots-26 saves). Tampa Bay, Ramo 4-7-5 (36-33). A—15,391 (19,758).