GAME SUMMARIES (Home Team in CAPS)
Lightning 5, HURRICANES 1
Goals: Johnson (4), Sergachev (4), Namestnikov (4), Callahan (1), Kucherov (11)
Saves: Vasilevskiy (31), 8-1-0
LIGHTNING 3, Red Wings 2
Goals: Kucherov (12), Stamkos (4), Point (5)
Saves: Vasilevskiy (29), 9-1-0
Ducks 4, LIGHTNING 1
Goals: Kunitz (2)
Saves: Budaj (17), 0-1-1
- The Lightning continued their fast start to the 2017-18 season thanks to some very impressive record-setting performances. Tampa Bay set a franchise record by winning their first six home games of the year following their 3-2 victory over Detroit last Wednesday night. The win was highlighted by goaltender’s Andrei Vasilevskiy’s personal best eighth consecutive win and points by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov’s goal and assist and a goal by Stamkos in the win against the Red Wings marked the 11th consecutive game where they both scored a point, tying a club record for most consecutive games with a point scored to start a season.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy is quickly becoming one of the top goaltender’s in the NHL. His nine wins leads all NHL goalies, while his .936 save percentage and 2.20 goals against average are sixth and seventh best in the league respectively. More importantly, Vasilevskiy has made several momentum changing saves during critical junctures in the game, especially when the Lightning defense hasn’t been at its best. Most people would tab Nikita Kucherov as the team’s early season MVP but Vasilevskiy is not that far behind.
- The Lightning power play continued to fire on all cylinders, finishing the week with three goals in 11 opportunities with the man advantage. Tampa Bay has the second highest power player percentage (28.6%) in the NHL so far this season and their 76 power play goals since the start of last season are the most by any team in the league
- Saturday’s 4-1 home loss to Anaheim, which snapped their six game home winning streak as well as stopping the 11-game point streak of both Kucherov and Stamkos, was the Lightning’s worst performance so far this season. All phases of the game were to blame as the power play went 0-4, the penalty kill went 0-2 and back-up goalie Peter Budaj struggled in his second start of the year, giving up four goals on just 21 shots. Even when the Lightning pulled Budaj for the extra attacker with over four minutes to play, they failed to put the puck in the back of the net. Overall, it was a night to forget.
- The loss to Anaheim also exposed a potential problem going forward when the Lightning play a Western Conference opponent. They have scored only three goals in two games against teams from the Western Conference and so far it appears the style of hockey employed by most of the teams from the West, a physical, hard-checking game played at a slower, slogging pace, gives Tampa problems. It’s a small sample size, but it’s worth keeping any eye on this trend, especially when the Lightning embark on a three-game Western road trip next week.
- For the fourth consecutive week, the Lightning had a losing record in the face-off circle, winning only 49.1 percent of their draws over three games. It’s a recurring problem Tampa needs to address, especially during the power play and penalty kill as well as late in the third period of a one-goal game.
THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
- Andrei Vasilevskiy–2 wins, 60 saves, 1.5 GAA, .950 save percentage
- Nikita Kucherov–2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points
- Ryan Callahan–1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points
THIS WEEK’S GAMES
Thursday–vs. New York Rangers