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Bolts Bits: Tampa Bay looks to continue success at home

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns takes a look at the Lightning after Wednesday's practice

by Bryan Burns /

The Tampa Bay Lightning will be aiming for their sixth-consecutive win at AMALIE Arena to start the season when they host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.

The Lightning are one of just two teams in the NHL still undefeated at home (St. Louis, at 2-0-0, is the other). Going back to last season, the Bolts have won seven straight and have gotten points in 10-straight home games.

Tampa Bay can establish a new franchise mark for consecutive victories at home to start a season with a win over the Red Wings, bettering the record of five-straight home wins set in 2002-03, 2007-08 and 2012-13.

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said it's a great feeling to come home and get the full support of the fans behind them. Their enthusiasm has helped fuel the Bolts run of good performances at AMALIE Arena.

Video: Hedman | "We're not satisfied""We want to make it a tough environment for teams to come into," Hedman said. "Fans have been supporting us for a very long time. They're great. We feed off them to start off the game and their energy they bring to the table. It's always fun to have that run on home ice, but (Detroit's) a new game."

THE CAROLINA KID: Lightning forward J.T. Brown played just his second game this season in Tuesday's win at Carolina but made the most of his insertion into the lineup, tallying an assist on Ryan Callahan's empty-net goal for his first point of the season.

But more than just getting on the scoresheet, Brown brought speed and physicality while centering the Bolts' fourth line and was, arguably, Tampa Bay's best player in the first period in Raleigh.

Brown finished with a team-high five hits against the Canes.

"When things are rolling for your team a little bit, it's harder to get in," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "And unfortunately for him, he played in the debacle in Florida [Oct. 7], so we changed things up and then things got going after that. So, the thing you've got to do is you've just got to talk to him and you've got to keep working and you'll find your way back in. He did (Tuesday) night, and I thought he did a great job. We put him in the middle. He had energy…He was big for that line, hence why they played a lot last night.

Brown has always played well in Raleigh, home of North Carolina State University, where his father Ted Brown was a standout running back in the late 1970s and still owns the Atlantic Coast Conference record for most career rushing yards (4,602). J.T. entered Tuesday's game having scored a goal in two of his previous three trips to Raleigh.

He now has points in three of his last four appearances in Carolina.

Video: Cooper | Post-PracticeUNDER THE RADAR: Lost in the production of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov and the tremendous production that duo has had through the first 10 games of the season, the third member of Tampa Bay's top line is quietly putting up his finest stretch of games in the NHL.

Vladislav Namestnikov is currently on a seven-game point streak, the longest point streak of his career. His previous high was four games, set during the 2015-16 season.

To put it in perspective, last season, the longest point streak on the Lightning was six games. Namestnikov has already eclipsed that mark in the first 10 games of 2017-18, and it's barely a footnote among the records and achievements the Bolts have set in the season's early going.

"It's always nice to contribute, but I try not to think too much about streaks," Namestnikov said. "As long as the team's winning, that's the only streak the guys are worried about."

Namestnikov netted an empty-net goal in Raleigh to seal the Lightning's 5-1 victory over the Canes. He currently ranks tied for third on the Bolts for scoring. He's contributing defensively as well as his 17 hits rank tied for second on the Lightning and his nine blocked shots are tied for sixth on the team.

Even with his hot start, Namestnikov still isn't completely satisfied with his play.
"There's still a lot of stuff to improve in my game," Namestnikov said. "I just come to the rink every day and try to get better."

ICE CHIPS: Brown, Ryan Callahan (goal) and Jake Dotchin (assists) all picked up their first points of the season in the win over Carolina…The Lightning improved to 34-6-2 (regular season and playoffs) when Callahan scores a goal since he joined the team midway through the 2013-14 season…Tampa Bay has been outshot in seven of 10 games this season but is 6-1-0 when it's opponent registers more shots, the six wins tops in the NHL in such scenarios…The Lightning lead the NHL for goals (41) and rank second only to Toronto (4.44) for goals per game (4.10).

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