Following back to back losses on the road to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres, The Tampa Bay Lightning came back home to face the Detroit Red Wings.
For a few years the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings were playoff enemies, both teams hoping to move onto the next round. In 2015 the Bolts and Wings went seven games, with the Lightning ultimately winning the series. The next year didn’t go in the team from Detroit’s favor, as the Lightning won the series in five games. In their 53 regular season contests, Detroit owns a 28-22-2-3 record. The two were ties to go along with three overtimes loses. The one thing you can say when these two teams face it’s going to be physical. Currently Tampa owns a ten-game winning streak against the Red Wings. It is their longest active winning streak against an opponent.
The 25-year-old rookie
Yanni Gourde has been a man on a mission this season. Before coming to the Lightning organization, no one really gave him a shot to succeed. Heading into tonight’s game Yanni has 22 goals on the season, trailing only Brock Boeser who has 27 goals for rookie goal scoring. Through 57 games, Gourde has amassed 43 points (22 goals and 21 assists). He trails only Nikitia Kucherov on the season in goals scored. Steven Stamkos would ultimately take back over second place on the team with two goals on the night.
Big guns come out firing!!
Following two losses on the road and a return home, you knew Tampa Bay’s big shooters were going to want to get one the board early. With almost four minutes gone in the opening period, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos would complete a beautiful play to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. While at even strength Victor Hedman and Kucherov would cycle the puck in the offensive zone, before a shockingly wide open Stamkos give the Lightning an early lead. Minutes later Kucherov would complete a beautiful series of passes to get the Bolts a 2-0 lead. For Stamkos the opening goal was his 22nd of the season, Kucherov’s was his 31st. The Lightning scored both goals on Howard in their first five shots on net.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) February 16, 2018
Special team play finds it’s groove
As both teams headed into the 2nd period, it seemed the Lightning’s power play and penalty kill units had figured things out. In their last five games the Bolts gave up five goals while on the penalty kill. Through 20:43 of this game, the Red Wings went 0-2 on the power play, while the Lightning went 1-0 with Kucherov getting the goal with the man advantage. As time ticked away on the third period the Lightning were 2-3 on the PP and 1-3 on the penalty kill. The Red Wings first goal came late in the second period. Vlad Namestnikov was serving a penalty for slashing on Henrik Zetterburg.
Big three roll for the Bolts
Through two periods and three goals, only 4 names appeared on the score sheet. Steven Stamkos had two of the first three goals, while Kucherov had the other goal. On both of Stamkos’ goals Kucherov had an assist as did Hedman. The Lightning’s top defenseman had an assist on all three goals. Kucherov would add another assist on a goal in the third scored by Alex Killorn. This was Hedman’s 10th multi point game of the season.
Killorn getting hot at the right time
In his last six games, Alex Killorn has been one of the hottest players wearing Bolts blue. Go back to February 1st, and Killorn has amassed 11 points in the eight games since the start of the month. Until his five-point game (2G-3A) against Calgary, Killorn’s best game came all the way back on October 12th the 4th game of the season. That’s a span of 47 games, during that span he had no more than two points in a game. His goal tonight gave the Lightning a 4-1 lead early in the 3rd period that would get the Lightning their league leading 39th win of the season.
The Lightning will welcome in the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night, before heading back out on a three game road trip.
***Three Stars of the Game***
1st Star – Nikita Kucherov: Notched four points on the night (1G-3A), also got the game winning goal. Has 76 points on the season to lead the NHL.
2nd Star – Steven Stamkos: Two goals on the night, including the game opening goal. He now has 23 goals on the season, which is second on the team.
3rd Star – Victor Hedman: Three points on the night, all three assists.
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