Lightning vs. Thrashers
Atlanta, GA - Steven Stamkos' dominance of the Atlanta Thrashers has already carried into this season. Another high-scoring effort from the emerging star could be just what the Tampa Bay Lightning need to get untracked.
Stamkos looks to lead the Lightning to a seventh consecutive victory over the Thrashers when the teams meet at Philips Arena on Friday night.
Oddsmakers from online sports book BroburySports.com have made the Thrashers –120 money line favorites for Friday's game against the Lightning. Current MLB Public Betting Information shows that 60% of more than 639 bets for this game have been placed on the Thrashers -120.
Stamkos' nine goals and eight assists in 13 games against Atlanta (3-3-0) are his highest totals against any opponent. The top pick of the 2008 draft continued his torrid scoring against the Southeast Division rival on Oct. 9, tallying two goals and an assist in a 5-3 win in Tampa Bay's season opener.
He hasn't slowed since, and leads the Lightning (4-1-1) with five goals and five assists after tying Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby with a league-leading 51 goals while adding a career-high 44 assists last season.
Stamkos recorded another point Thursday, but Tampa Bay lost for the second time in three games, falling 3-2 in overtime to the New York Islanders on a goal that needed video assistance to be confirmed.
"To be honest with you, I didn't care about the review," coach Guy Boucher said. "We didn't come out in the first period. We didn't skate. We didn't battle. Half our bench wasn't there. Unacceptable."
Another meeting with Atlanta could result in a happy Boucher if the Lightning can rebound.
Tampa has won six in a row over the Thrashers with Stamkos totaling six goals and five assists. He has one goal and two assists in two victories at Atlanta in that span.
The Lightning may opt to start Mike Smith in goal after Dan Ellis made 22 saves Thursday.
Smith has won all three of his starts with a 3.26 goals-against average, including a 27-save effort against Atlanta. Ellis has lost his last two games with a 4.74 GAA while getting pulled once, but is 2-1-0 with a 1.84 GAA in three meetings with the Thrashers.
Atlanta is trying to overcome some sloppy play that contributed to Wednesday's 4-1 loss to visiting Buffalo after winning consecutive road games. The Thrashers were penalized for too many men on the ice for their third such penalty in the last five games, while giving up goals on two of them.
"Very sloppy. Attention to detail was almost nonexistent," coach Craig Ramsay said. "We had a couple of days off, we had two good practices and there's no reason for them not to come and be able to play.
"It's one of those games that you really want to throw away."
Andrew Ladd is looking to continue his best start to a season after helping Chicago to its first Stanley Cup in 49 years last summer. The left wing leads the Thrashers with six points after assisting on Tobias Enstrom's goal Wednesday.Ladd, who had an assist at Tampa Bay two weeks ago, totaled 11 points in 34 October games over his previous five NHL seasons with Carolina and the Blackhawks.