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Lecavalier hat trick leads rout of Atlanta

This was the game the Lightning has been waiting for, not just through its four-game winless streak but all season.

Tampa Bay embarrassed the Thrashers during an 8-0 victory Thursday night at the St. Pete Times Forum. It was the team's second-largest margin of victory after the 9-0 rout of the Penguins in November 2003.

Vinny Lecavalier had his fourth career hat trick and a career-high five points. Marty St. Louis added a goal and had career highs of four assists and five points.

And Marc Denis made 21 saves to break his seven-game winless streak and earn his 100th career victory, first Lightning shutout and 16th of his career.

Those were the highlights, but it was the little things that helped Tampa Bay (14-13-2) break a 0-3-1 streak and win for the fourth time in five games against division rival and Southeast-leading Atlanta.

Play away from the puck was spirited. Tampa Bay won battles for the puck and gave the Thrashers fits as they tried to get through the neutral zone. The Lightning even scored two power-play goals to snap an 0-for-25 streak that began Nov. 28. St. Louis' goal was short-handed.

Lecavalier, whose 17 goals are tied with St. Louis for the team lead, scored Tampa Bay's first three, starting with a wrist shot with 27.6 seconds left in the first period.

He had two goals in a four-goal second period in which Nikita Alexeev and Brad Richards also scored.

The Lightning played a terrific first, outshooting the Thrashers 12-4 and earning a 1-0 lead on Lecavalier's late goal.

The power play misfired twice, though there were several prime opportunities.

St. Louis forced Kari Lehtonen to make a sprawling save to stop his tip of Dan Boyle's shot from the high slot 2:11 in. St. Louis tipped another Boyle shot, this one from the point, and Lehtonen made another sliding save.

Boyle was on the spot defensively as well. Atlanta's Eric Boulton swept down the right wing and went to the net. Paul Ranger stumbled, and Boulton rushed past. But Boyle got his stick on the left wing's backhand try with 9:05 remaining.

Lecavalier scored with a hot wrist shot from the slot. The center picked up the puck after Eric Perrin's shot was blocked, skated to create room and beat Lehtonen to the stick side.

Lecavalier made it 2-0 with a power-play goal 6:28 into the second. He scored again with 7:46 left, which began a 2:44 spurt in which the Lightning scored three times.

Denis, who entered on a 0-5-2 streak, didn't have a ton of work but made a dramatic save on Jon Sim at the side of the net with 1:26 left during a Thrashers power play.

Boyle, St. Louis and Ruslan Fedotenko, who snapped a 14-game drought, scored in the third on Johan Hedberg, who began the period in place of Lehtonen.

Lightning 1 4 3 8

Thrashers 0 0 0 0

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