Tampa Bay Lightning: 10 Best Performances In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

8. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Atlanta Thrashers

Tampa Bay Lightning Destroy The Division-Leading Atlanta Thrashers

Thursday, December 7, 2006

We were just one season removed from the rather unpleasant season known as the post-lockout 2005-06 National Hockey League season, and the Tampa Bay Lightning were fighting to make their way back to the top in an effort to reclaim some of the glory the tasted just before the NHL shutdown.

It was a cold December night, well…as cold as it gets here in the Sunshine State, and the Tampa Bay Lightning had quite a challenge in front of them. The Lightning were ready to defend the then-St. Pete Times Forum against the Southeast Division leaders, the Atlanta Thrashers.

There has always been a little bit of heat between these two teams. When you add in the fact that the Atlanta Thrashers were currently at the top of the division, the Tampa Bay Lightning knew they had to bring their “A” game if they were going to bring home the two points in front of their hometown crowd.

Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning were not coming into this encounter on a high note. Just two nights prior, the Lightning suffered a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. Needless to say, this only added fuel to the fire in their quest for a win over the Thrashers.

The Tampa Bay Lightning dominated the first period of play, registering 12 shots on goal while holding the Thrashers to a mere four. Despite the onslaught from the Lightning, the first goal of the night wouldn’t come until the final seconds of the period. With just under 30 seconds left in the period, Vincent Lecavalier would score his 15th goal of the season to give the Lightning the early lead.

When the Tampa Bay Lightning came out of the tunnel to start the second period, the Lightning would continue to put the pressure on the Atlanta Thrashers. Almost the instant these two teams met in the center of the ice, the shenanigans would start. Over the course of the second period there would be eleven penalties called between these two teams, seven of those penalties belonged to the Thrashers while four belonged to the Bolts.

It would be the third of those penalties that would be the catalyst for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s offensive pressure to kick into high gear. In the final seconds of the Power Play, Vincent Lecavalier would score his second goal of the night with assists from defenseman Dan Boyle and right wing Martin St. Louis. This would extend the Tampa Bay Lightning’s lead to two.

Just over the halfway point in the second period, the hats would come raining down on the ice as Vinny Lecavalier would score a natural hat trick with assists from defenseman Filip Kuba and Marty St. Louis. This would be Lecavalier’s fourth career hat trick.

Overall, there would be six different Lightning players to score a goal on that night against the Thrashers. Nikita Alexeev, Brad Richards, Dan Boyle, Martin St. Louis, and Ruslan Fedotenko would all join Lecavalier on the scoresheet that night, delivering an embarrassing 8-0 loss to goaltender Kari Lehtonen and the Atlanta Thrashers.

You never truly know what to expect when you come face-to-face with the division leader; especially when your team is coming into the encounter with a loss on their minds. There is one thing this team has proven over and over again. When you work together as a team and everyone does their job accordingly, there is nothing you can’t accomplish.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning registered 38 shots on goal that night while holding the Thrashers to 21. The Bolts dug deep and took the shot whenever they had the opportunity, dug deep for the rebounds, and continued to pepper Lehtonen with shots. Also, the defense held strong by protecting their goaltender and knocking their man off the puck. As we have said plenty of times before, this is the key to a successful season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning has seen plenty of shutouts between then and now, but there is no denying this particular shutout was one for the record books and one Lightning fans won’t forget anytime soon.

Next: The Tampa Bay Lightning Become The Eastern Conference Champions