GAME SUMMARIES (Home Team in CAPS)
Lightning 2, MAPLE LEAFS 0
Goals: Paquette (1), Killorn (5)
Saves: Vasilevskiy (29), Shutout (6), 26-5-1
CANADIENS 2, Lightning 1 (SO)
Goals: Kucherov (26)
Saves: Vasilevskiy (37), 26-5-2
SENATORS 6, Lightning 3
Goals: Hedman (5), Koekkoek (4), Gourde (12)
Saves: Vasilevskiy (27), 26-6-2
Lightning 5, RED WINGS 2
Goals: Girardi (3), Johnson (13), Gourde 2 (14), Kucherov (27)
Saves: Domingue (34), 1-0-0
SEASON: 30-9-3. 63 points, 1st place in the Atlantic Division
- With their 5-2 victory over Detroit Sunday night, the Lightning once again completed a very successful extended road trip. In their five games away from Tampa, the Lightning went 3-1-1, earning points in four of the five games played for a total of seven out of a possible 10 points. During this five game stretch, the Lightning outscored their opponents 16-10, outshot them 188-157, recorded two shutouts and was a perfect 15 for 15 on the penalty kill. Overall, not a bad way to end 2017 and begin 2018.
- Rookie center Yanni Gourde not only continues to impress his teammates but the rest of the NHL as well. During the most recent five game road trip, Gourde recorded three goals and three assists for six points, a game-winning goal and a Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist and a fight) in the Lightning’s 5-2 victory over Detroit on Sunday night. For the season, Gourde has 14 goals, 16 assists, 30 points, two game-winning goals and a plus/minus rating of +18 while averaging 16:13 of ice time per game. Steve Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov may get all of the attention but Gourde’s performance this season deserves just as much praise.
- At the season’s official halfway point, the Lightning were 29-9-3. the best record in franchise history after 41 games…Jon Cooper was named the head coach for the Atlantic Division at this year’s All-Star game in Tampa on January 28…Since Ben Bishop was traded last season, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is 38-10-4, the best record in the NHL during that time span…Seven of Vasievskiy’s 10 career shutouts have occurred on the road…The Lightning are 9-3-1 against Atlantic Division opponents…Tampa’s next game against the Atlantic Division is February 12 when they play Toronto…11 of Tampa’s next 13 games are against the Western Conference…The Lightning’s defensemen have scored 28 goals this season, the second most in the NHL and lead the league in points score with 102…24 of Nikita Kucherov’s 27 goals this season are even strength goals.
- The one regulation defeat the Lightning suffered during the road trip, a 6-3 loss to Ottawa on Saturday, was one head coach Jon Cooper found disturbing. “You can’t win a Stanley Cup in the regular season, you have to get to the playoffs first, ” Cooper said after Saturday’s game. “I think there is a team in there that thinks we’ve already made the playoffs. With that attitude, we are not going to go anywhere.” There’s no doubt that the Lightning’s performance against Ottawa was sub-par but it seems Cooper’s comments were either an overreaction or a ploy to motivate the team and keep them focused on the rest of the regular season. Regardless of Cooper’s motive, the Lightning received the message as they won convincingly the following night at Detroit.
- Over the last three weeks, the Lightning’s power play, once the NHL’s best, has suffered greatly. In their last 10 games, Tampa has scored only six goals in their last 37 power play opportunities. The lack of production has lowered the Lightning’s power play percentage to 24.7 percent and dropped them from first to third in the NHL.
- With most everyone in the league having played at least half of their scheduled games, it’s time to speculate as to which teams will become sellers as the trade deadline approaches. In the Eastern Conference, the most likely candidates are Buffalo, Montreal and Ottawa while in the West, Arizona and Vancouver seemed poised to make a move. The biggest name rumored to be moved is Ottawa defenseman, Erik Karlsson, who becomes a free agent at the end of this season.
THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
- Yanni Gourde–3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, 1 game-winning goal
- Nikita Kucherov–2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points
- Louis Domingue–1 win, 2.00 GAA, .944 save percentage (34 saves on 36 shots)
THIS WEEK’S GAMES
- Tuesday–vs. Carolina
- Thursday–vs. Calgary