Wednesday, October 20

Lightning set the perfect home record against Wings


Home has proven to be where the points are for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning improved their home record to 4-0-0 Monday night at Amalie Arena, wrapping up a series of sweeps over the Nashville Predators with a solid 5-2 victory.

Center Yanni Gourde scored two goals and captain Steven Stamkos etched his name in the franchise record book in the victory.

On Wednesday, the Lightning open a two-game series at home against the Detroit Red Wings, mired in the basement of the NL Central with just two wins in 10 games, in an unusual weeknight start at 5:30 ET.

Stamkos made history when he scored 4-0 with a power goal in the second period on Monday, setting a team record with the most points (301) in the men’s lead by passing Martin St. Louis.

However, Stamkos, who turns 31 on Sunday, credited his team’s second straight win where he belonged: his teammates’ play in a three-goal first period that saw goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy keep Nashville scoreless. .

“I thought the last 12, 10 minutes of the first period were really good,” Stamkos said. “We somehow weathered the storm (early), Vasi made great saves and we played really well.”

Becoming Lightning’s top power play producer never came close to him, Stamkos acknowledged.

“These you don’t really know about them, to be honest, until they put it on the scoreboard during the game and the guys start congratulating you,” the six-time All-Star said. “Obviously the biggest milestones you know, but that’s pretty good.

“Like I said the other day, whenever you’re with Marty and Vinny (Lecavalier) in the record books here in Tampa, that means you’ve been here a long time and you’re lucky enough to be very successful.”

Defender Erik Cernak (upper body injury) returned to the lineup after a two-game absence while Tampa Bay employed an 11 forwards, seven defenders strategy.

After returning to Detroit from a 0-3-1 road trip, the Red Wings played well despite having just one point to prove against the Florida Panthers in back-to-back games over the weekend.

They dropped a pair of decisions 3-2 to the Panthers, earning the only point in Saturday’s game after Florida’s Aleksi Heponiemi scored his first career goal at 2:45 in overtime.

The power play remains a major hurdle at Hockeytown, as the club has connected in just 4 of its 34 chances (11.8 percent), which was ranked 25th in the league before Tuesday’s games.

“I actually thought the power play looked pretty good, but we have to find ways to score,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said after Sunday’s loss. “You have to find ways to win these close matches.

“If you have those power plays consistently, you’re going to score.”

The COVID-19 protocol has also been problematic, but Blashill said he expects the return of five players over the course of the week from the virus list.

Robby Fabbri and Adam Erne have played only the first two games of the season and will return. Also, Sam Gagner and Jon Merrill could be available on Wednesday. Filip Zadina could play in the contest on Friday.

Left back Tyler Bertuzzi scored Saturday, but left in the third period and did not play Sunday. Neither he nor goalkeeper Jonathan Bernier, both with upper body injuries, trained on Tuesday.

–Field level media




www.si.com

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