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Burns: Three things we learned in Lightning's win over Flyers

by Bryan Burns / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning continued to befuddle Philadelphia, moving to 8-0-1 at Amalie Arena since the beginning of the 2010-11 season against the Flyers following Thursday's 4-3 victory. The Bolts have now won five-straight over Philly.

How'd they do it? Here's a look at three factors that spurred the Lightning to victory.

1. The Bolts are nearly unbeatable when scoring first

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper has stressed to his team the importance of starting games quickly and jumping on an opponent from the beginning.

The Bolts have heeded their coach's advice. Through 11 games, Tampa Bay has registered the opening goal seven times.

The Bolts' records when scoring first? Five wins, one loss and one shootout loss.

On Thursday, it was Vladislav Namestnikov who pushed Tampa Bay into the lead from the outset, redirecting Anton Stralman's shot from the point past Philadelphia goalie Ray Emery.

The Flyers were forced to play catchup the rest of the way, never quite digging themselves out of the early hole.

"Once again, we had a really strong start, put them on their heels, scored early," Cooper said. "I talk about it all the time about getting the lead."

2. Jason Garrison's addition to the power play has been a spark to the Bolts' special teams

For the last handful of games, Cooper has experimented with two defenders on the Lightning's power play, removing Jonathan Drouin from the first unit and inserting Jason Garrison and his heavy shot to pair with Anton Stralman at the point.

The results have been encouraging. In Thursday's victory, Garrison had an assist on Tampa Bay's second goal when Steven Stamkos found a small sliver of open net from a ridiculous angle and sniped a wrist shot into goal on the power play.

In the third period with the Bolts clinging to a 3-2 lead, Garrison ripped a shot from outside the left circle to score what would prove to be the game-winning goal.

"Adding Garrison up at the point there kind of gives us a pretty dynamic lefty righty shooting, guys with heavy shots, so that should keep some penalty kills honest," Cooper said, referring to Stralman's right-handed shot and Garrison's lefty blasts. "They were good tonight."

Tampa Bay was 2-for-5 on the power play against Philly, improving to a 26.2 percent conversion rate for the season.

"I thought our power play was zipping around (Thursday)," Cooper said. "That's a good sign."

The Lightning are currently the third-best team in the NHL on the power play.

3. The Bolts are easing Jonathan Drouin into life in the NHL, and that's a good thing

Some Lightning fans might be concerned that 19-year-old rookie Jonathan Drouin is no longer skating on the top line with Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula, being partnered instead with Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette the past couple of games. From the outside, it could appear Drouin has been demoted. Cooper, though, insists that's not the case. Instead, it's a part of the natural progression of becoming a NHL regular.

"He played lots of minutes early his first couple games, a lot of that out of necessity," Cooper said. "But, he's starting to play quality minutes, and I think the one thing is, I don't think, especially early in his career, you should have to look at the score sheet and say, 'Well, if Drouin's not on the score sheet for a point, he didn't have a great game.' We're really looking about, when you get to this league, it is your play away from the puck that really has to be hammered home and the way we do things."

Drouin, who got his first point in his second game at Calgary and his first goal in game three at Winnipeg, was credited with an assist on the Vladislav Namestnikov's opening goal against Philly.

"He's getting better and better as each game goes on," Cooper said of Drouin. "It's great to see it because he's got a high hockey IQ and you can tell he's picking things up. It's good to see."

As Drouin continues to prove himself and stand up to the challenges of the NHL, expect to see his responsibilities increase as well. His early inclusion on the Bolts' top line was a product of the numerous injuries the Bolts were dealing with. Now that the Lightning are getting back to full strength, the team can afford to ease Drouin into the game a bit more, which was the original plan all along.

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