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Game 7: Tampa Bay Lightning at Atlanta Thrashers

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Atlanta Thrashers 5-2.

Steven Stamkos scored his first second career NHL hat trick – the last goal being an empty netter – to help put the Lightning in the win column. Mike Smith is now 4-0-0 to start the season, which he’s never done before. And the Lightning currently sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference – and the entire NHL, for that matter – two weeks into the season with a 5-1-1 record.

Doesn’t everything look so bright and cheery after a win? Remember this feeling, because it won’t last. I’m not saying that the Lightning will have an awful season. Just that, in the normal course of an NHL season, there are up and there are downs. This is an up – the downs will come.

Steven Stamkos had a great night. He came out great in the first, and then sort of trailed off as the game went along. He did have seven shots on goal, but in the first period, he had four, then the second period he was down to two, and the third period the only shot he had was that empty net goal. Obviously, that’s not a bad thing since he scored three goals, but it wasn’t a very consistent effort.

Vincent Lecavalier had a much better game than the one previous. He had four shots on goal, and won 53% of his faceoffs (he was 8-7 in the circle). And he was playing a little feisty in the first period, which usually bodes well for the team. However, everyone on the game thread were hoping that if he got into a fight, that he has a good left. No one wanted to see him mess up his right hand even more. Regardless, overall, it was just a better game for him.

Smith had a solid game. Nothing all that spectacular, but then, you don’t really want a goalie to be spectacular since that usually means that your defense isn’t doing that well. He didn’t have any memorable saves, and that’s a very good thing.

Dominic Moore had another good night. Both he and Martin St. Louis had four shots on goal. But Moore also won 60% of his faceoffs (he was 6-4 in the circle). He wasn’t very flashy about it, but definitely a great effort on his part. And Marty was fantastic, as always.

The only real downside were the ton of penalties that both teams took. There were a total of 13 power plays for the game. The Lightning ended up being 1 2 of 6 on the power play, but a couple of goals were scored right after the power play ended. Atlanta was 1 of 7 on the night.

The three stars of the game were 1. Steven Stamkos, 2. Vinny Lecavalier, and 3. Dustin Byfuglien from Atlanta.

The next Lightning game is tomorrow, 24 October, at home versus the Nashville Predators. It’s an early start – the game is scheduled to begin at 6 pm Eastern. The Raw Charge game thread opens 30 minutes before every game, so stop in and say hi if you’re around.

[Note by John Fontana, 10/23/10 12:52 PM EDT ] Fixed incorrect stats: this was Stamkos’ second career hat-trick, and the Lightning were 2-for-6 on the power play.

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