Lightning try to keep streaking vs. Red Wings (Oct 26, 2017)

October 26, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. -- Ten games into the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the most dominating team in the NHL, out to an 8-1-1 start with the league's No. 2 scoring offense and a defense that ranks in the top five.

On Thursday, they will try to improve to 6-0-0 at home for the first time in their history, and do so against a Detroit Red Wings team at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Detroit (4-5-1) is 0-4-1 in its past five games, scoring only nine goals in that span.

"The team's having some success. That success isn't coming easy," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, unhappy with Tampa Bay's third period Tuesday, letting Carolina get within a goal before pulling away in the final three minutes for a 5-1 victory. "We can't take shortcuts ... when it starts to creep in, you have to nip it."

Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos are the league's top two scorers -- Kucherov leads the league with 11 goals, and Stamkos has the most points with 20, including a league-best 17 assists. Kucherov is second with 17 points.

Both Stamkos and Kucherov have scored at least one point in all 10 games, and they can match Martin St. Louis' 2009 team record to open a season if they get a point against Detroit.

Tampa Bay is averaging 4.1 goals per game and allowing only 2.4. The latter figure has improved considerably from the start of the season, as the Lightning have allowed only two goals total in their past three wins.

"We're obviously happy with the start we've had, but we're not satisfied," Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman said. "We still have stuff to improve on."

Detroit had allowed 17 goals in a four-game span before taking a 1-0 loss at Buffalo on Tuesday. Benoit Pouliot's goal midway through the second period handed a defeat to Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 31 saves.

The Red Wings should get a boost from the return of defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who has missed the past seven games with injury. He acknowledges that Tampa Bay will present a challenge in his first game back.

"They've got a lot of speed, a lot of skill players," DeKeyser said. "If I'm going to be playing, I definitely want to be ready."

Detroit also should see the season debut of left winger Andreas Athanasiou, who has been out in a contract dispute that was just resolved in the past week. The 23-year-old had 18 goals and 11 assists last season and had threatened to play overseas before working out a deal to return to the Red Wings.

"Now I'm happy to be back here with the guys," he said Wednesday. "It's over with now. It's in the past. ... You've got to earn your ice (time). I'm never bitter about it."

Tampa Bay has won eight straight games against Detroit, including a 3-2 victory last week in Little Caesars Arena, where Kucherov scored two goals. The clubs do not resume their season series until January.