Power Play, Offensive Flow Give Lightning Fourth Straight Win

by | Jan 19, 2024

Power Play, Offensive Flow Give Lightning Fourth Straight Win

by | Jan 19, 2024

TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning enjoyed a powerful offensive night as six different players scored a goal and the Lightning went 3-for-3 on the power play to stop the Minnesota Wild, 7-3, on Thursday evening.

The win gave Tampa Bay a season-high four ‘W’s’ in a row and five consecutive victories at Amalie Arena.

“This is a tough league to win in,” noted coach Jon Cooper. “You don’t take those for granted. At some point, you have to dig your heels in and win some games.”

Tampa Bay has enjoyed consistent offense in it’s four-game winning streak. The Lightning scored 19 goals, which totaled about 4.7 per game. The Bolts have had a consistent power play all season to lead the NHL by making 31 percent as they have contributed a goal in their last six power-play opportunities.

“I think we are starting to play with more confidence,” said Lightning center Brayden Point. “We tightened up defensively. We are still giving up more chances, but a lot less than we were when we were struggling. We find some confidence and we find a lot of chances here and hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Point posted his sixth three-goal game of the season as his point total climbed to 47 (21 goals /26 assists). He scored at 12:41 in the second period when Nikita Kucherov stole the puck behind the Minnesota net and fed him for a 4-2 advantage.

Kucherov recorded three assists Thursday evening, totaling eight in the last three games.

Steven Stamkos and Michael Eyssimont scored power-play goals in the third period to secure the fourth win. These came after Anthony Cirelli’s power play marker at the 0:16 mark of the second period which gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead that it would never relinquish.

“Nothing like scoring a goal,” noted Point. “It really boosts your confidence. We do have good depth in the room and to see everyone contributing is awesome.”

Cirelli took the pass from Point, who posted two assists before his 21st goal, via the power play, on the Bolts’ first shift of the second period. Cirelli notched two goals and an assist to record 20 points (10 goals/10 assists) so far this season.

Stamkos and Eyssimont put the game out of reach in the third period as they cashed in on the power play goals which magnified the intensity the Lightning use in the one-man advantage. Once again this season, the Bolts are at the top as they have connected on 31 percent of their power play opportunities.

“We have come home and had some big wins in overtime and that helped us out,” Cooper said. “The game is getting more consistent on the good side of things. Hopefully, we can keep that up on what’s going to be a big road trip for us in the next couple of days.”

Road Trip Beckons: The Lightning go to Buffalo, Detroit, and Philadelphia for games on Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday as they have upped their record to 23-17-5 and their 51 points post them in a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference with the Red Wings. As of today, Tampa Bay is also one point behind Toronto and two behind Carolina, and wins this week could push them into the middle of the Eastern Conference.

“We are 40-plus games now and you know we are going through some injuries, too, some big ones, especially on the back end,” Cooper said. “Are we getting a shut-out every single night? No, we are not, but are we playing pretty sound? Yes, we are.”

‘Heddy’ In the House:  Victor Hedman scored Tampa Bay’s first goal at 6:12 in the first period to tie the game at 1-1.

Brayden Point had a steal behind the Wild net. He and his teammates manufactured a shot for Hedman, which was a one-timer from deep behind the left circle. Hedman stayed hot as he tallied four points and scored 17 points in the last 14 games.

First Time Everrrrrr: As the Lightning have worked to turn the roster over behind its remaining star power, new players are getting goals, assists, and points and making a difference inside the games.

Center Walter Merelä scored his first NHL goal at 3:20 in the second period as the Bolts were once again in transition in finding teammates on the fly and this gave them opportunities.

Merelä took the pass from forward Connor Sheary as he recorded that initial NHL score in his 14th game.

“Regardless of who is in the lineup, we are just not turning the puck over and we are playing a much more responsible game,” Cooper commented. “When you do that, in the end, you are limiting your chances to just give freebies to the other team. When we manage the puck, we are actually doing okay.”

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