While Steven Stamkos still remains sidelined, the Tampa Bay
Lightning are otherwise getting closer to full strength.
They’re also starting to put some wins together after a bit of a
The Lightning try to stay hot Saturday night against the
visiting Carolina Hurricanes, who have struggled in this series of
Tampa Bay (21-11-3) has followed a 3-5-3 stretch by winning four
of five, including three straight for the first time in almost six
weeks. Defenseman Victor Hedman was one of 11 players to record at
least one point in Thursday’s 4-2 victory over Nashville, posting
an assist in his first game back since missing six with a
“Usually when we’d come off after a game there would be a whole
row of suits,” said coach Jon Cooper, whose team continues to play
without Stamkos (broken leg) and Keith Aulie (fractured hand). “But
now there’s only a couple guys, so that’s a good sign that we’re
getting our guys back.”
Martin St. Louis scored his team best-tying 14th goal while
Jean-Philippe Cote notched an assist in his first game since
getting recalled from the AHL on Wednesday. Thursday also marked
Cote’s first NHL contest since an eight-game stint with Montreal in
“Whenever you have new guys in the lineup, especially Hedman on
the power play, that’s great,” Alex Killorn, who had a goal and an
assist, told the team’s official website. “Cote brings a ton of
energy and is a guy who works so hard and all that comes into play
and helps a ton.”
The Lightning improved to 15-1-1 when scoring first, among the
best records in the NHL.
“We’ve been finding out in this league getting the lead is
huge,” Cooper said.
Tampa Bay, which has allowed four goals during its three-game
winning streak, is 19-2-2 when allowing two or fewer.
“They’re playing good hockey,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said
of Tampa Bay. “They play a real high-pace game.”
The Lightning have also dominated the Hurricanes (14-14-7) since
the start of last season, taking five of six meetings by a combined
23-7 score. Tampa Bay won 3-0 in Carolina on Nov. 1 behind goals
from Hedman, Killorn and Stamkos.
St. Louis, who notched two assists in that game, has 36 points
over a 25-game stretch in the series.
The Hurricanes are coming off Friday’s 4-2 loss to Washington,
dropping to 1-2-2 in their last five. Jordan Staal and Riley Nash
both scored for Carolina, which outshot the Capitals 41-29 but
allowed a season-high three power-play goals.
“Five-on-5, we were all over them,” captain Eric Staal said. “We
were the better team, 5-on-5. But three power-play goals, you can’t
let that happen. That’s not good enough, obviously, and that’s how
you lose games.”
Eric Staal, who has 19 points in his last 17 games despite
coming up empty Friday, has just three in his last seven against
the Lightning. The Hurricanes are 3-7-3 this season when he fails
to record one.
Tampa Bay’s Anders Lindback made 28 saves against Nashville, but
Ben Bishop could be back in goal Saturday. Bishop ranks among the
NHL leaders with 18 wins and a 1.96 goals-against average.
Bishop, 11-2-0 at home, has allowed two goals or fewer in eight
consecutive games there. He’s shut out Carolina in each of his two
matchups in the series, making 31 saves last month and a
career-high 45 in a 5-0 win April 4.