After a series of dramatic comebacks during the past month, the last thing the Lightning wanted was to fall behind early to one of the worst teams in the league.
But drama can be fun.
The Lightning rallied from a two-goal deficit by scoring four in the second period of a 4-2 victory over the Thrashers before an announced 11,673 Wednesday at the Ice Palace.
The Lightning is unbeaten in six games (3-0-3), one shy of the franchise record set in 1996. In 11 games since the Olympic break, Tampa Bay has come from behind to earn points in six of 11 games, four times in the past five.
The Lightning improved to 5-1-1 at home against the Thrashers, who are 6-23-1-4 on the road this season.
"If you want to get out of the cellar, you have to beat the teams you're down there with," coach John Tortorella said. "If you want to gain respect around the league, you have to win the games you're supposed to win.
"That's how you move into the middle of the pack."
It was a milestone night for Tampa Bay. With 13 games left, it has 25 victories, one more than last season. Its four goals in the second was the most in a period this season.
And Dave Andreychuk, who had two goals and an assist, passed Peter Stastny for 26th on the NHL scoring list with 1,241 points.
Sheldon Keefe and Pavel Kubina also scored, and Martin Cibak had two assists. Nikolai Khabibulin made 19 saves.
Atlanta got first-period goals from Jeff Cowan and Lubos Bartecko.
Tampa Bay, which rallied from a three-goal deficit to tie the Thrashers 4-4 last week in Atlanta, controlled the second period.
Keefe scored his fifth of the season, deflecting a shot from the point by Cibak at 2:04.
Keefe has goals in a career-high three consecutive games and eight points in 11 games since returning from a knee injury.
Andreychuk's backhander at 10:16 _ he got the shot off from the slot while falling down _ tied it at 2.
At 13:56, he gave Tampa Bay the lead, stopping short at the goal line to shake a defender and beating Milan Hnilicka from a sharp angle for his 17th of the season. It was Andreychuk's 84th multigoal game, the first this season.
The goal chased Hnilicka, who was replaced by Frederic Cassivi in his NHL debut. Kubina's goal, his ninth, came short-handed at 15:59, giving Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead.
The Lightning outshot the Thrashers 17-5 for the period.
Despite the offensive flurry, Tampa Bay's Brad Richards saw his league-leading 10-game scoring streak end.
The Thrashers flashed their speed and finesse in the first period, scoring twice and nearly picking up a third on a crisp passing play.
Cowan one-timed a long rebound at 7:30, and Atlanta converted in transition as Tony Hrkac and Dany Heatley set up Bartecko, who beat Khabibulin for his 13th goal of the season at 13:36.
It easily could have been a three-goal period for Atlanta as Patrik Stefan threaded a pass from the right circle to a wide-open J.P. Vigier in the slot.
Vigier's slap shot beat Khabibulin but hit the post.