Lightning aim to build on offensive effort when they host ‘Canes
After scoring twice in the opening two games of the season, Tampa Bay erupted for eight goals against Columbus the last time out, getting points from 13 different players and goals from seven different scorers. Tampa Bay scored half those goals with the man advantage after going 0-for-8 to start the season.
It was the type of result the Lightning needed after fielding days’ worth of questions about a slow start and lack of production.
“Everyone wants to score a goal and we all want to contribute offensively and I think it was good for everybody to have a game like this,” Tampa Bay forward Yanni Gourde said. “I think our power play was much better. We directed pucks at the net and we created rebounds, and that’s how we scored goals and that what we have to do more of.”
The Lightning defense has been up to the task to this point, allowing just five goals (not counting empty net goals) through three games and is a perfect 13-for-13 on the penalty kill. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been a big part of that success with a 1.64 goals-against average and .950 save percentage to start the season.
It’s a point of emphasis for head coach Jon Cooper.
“Whether you get one or you get eight, goals win the game,” Cooper said after Saturday’s victory. “The part I liked about it is we just gave up two, and usually when that happens you’re in good shape.”
The defense will be tested by the Hurricanes, one of the surprises to start that the season with four wins in six games.
Carolina has scored five or more goals three times on the young season and have fired no fewer than 33 shots on goal. In the past two games, the Hurricanes have combined for 100 shots on goal.
The offense is led by Sebastian Aho, who is the seventh player in Carolina franchise history to start the season with points in six consecutive games and was named the third star of the week by the NHL.
“Everyone says (Winnipeg’s) a team that’s up for the Stanley Cup. They’ve proven it,” new Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour told NHL.com. “They were one of the best teams in the league (last season). I didn’t feel like we were (outmatched). It felt like we were hanging in there with them and probably had some opportunities to win the game. Overall, I’m happy with the effort for sure.”