Preview: Lightning try to extend winning streak to 4 as Islanders make way to town
TV: FOX Sports Sun
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning look to continue their winning ways against the resurgent New York Islanders when the teams meet Thursday at Amalie Arena.
The Lightning enter with a three-game winning streak and have won four of the past five games to sit atop the Atlantic Division standings.
The Islanders saw their five-game winning streak end on Monday at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens but remain at the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.
The Lightning have raced to the top of the standings behind deep offensive talent with seven players already in double digits in scoring just 15 games into the season.
“When you get the scoring through the lineup, it’s just a confidence builder for the players that are used to scoring and they’re feeling good about themselves,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Everybody’s kind of chipping in in the way you need, in the way the team’s built. When everyone is feeling good about themselves whether it’s the penalty kill guys or whatever, it’s just a good recipe and that’s what’s been happening.”
While Brayden Point paces Tampa Bay in scoring with a team-high nine goals and 19 points, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos have started to find the scoresheet with more consistency lately. The pair combined for three goals and six points in a victory over Edmonton on Tuesday. Stamkos has four goals in his past six games and Kucherov has three multi-point games in his past six since the two were reunited on a line.
“We always just try to create room for each other out there, whether it’s trying to two-on-one someone or give-or-go,” Stamkos said. “Obviously, we’ve developed that chemistry, and it was nice to have a couple nice plays tonight and contribute to another win.”
The Lightning remain without defenseman Victor Hedman, who returned to practice for the first time on Wednesday in nearly two weeks, and Ondrej Palat, who is expected to miss more time with a lower body injury.
The Islanders are winning games with a commitment to defense under new coach Barry Trotz. New York has allowed two or fewer goals seven times in 14 games.
But New York wants to find more offense, particularly with a power play that sits in the middle of the pack in the league standings but is on a 1-of-10 stretch.
“I think it’s still a work in progress and it will be,” Trotz told Newsday after Wednesday’s practice in Tampa. “Some guys are still struggling with some of the concepts, when to move the puck and when not to. We’re going to go the first 20 (games) and then reassess it, personnel-wise, making sure we have the right people in the right spots.”