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Lather, rinse, repeat: Lightning continue to pile up victories

The Bolts can push their winning streak to a season-long five games with a victory over Boston tonight

by Bryan Burns /

Sometimes they have to score five goals a game.

Sometimes just one will do.

Sometimes, they need to rally from big deficits. Multiple deficits even.

Sometimes, they punish teams at the start and coast.

No matter the formula the Tampa Bay Lightning devise, the end result has been pretty much the same in 2018-19:

A win.

The Lightning have been piling up plenty of victories this season, winning 21 of their 29 total games and opening up a three-point lead over Toronto at the top of the NHL standings. The Bolts are on a four-game win streak - tied for their longest of the season - as they return home tonight to host the Boston Bruins at AMALIE Arena (7:30 p.m. puck drop). And they've found plenty of different ways to emerge from those contests victorious.

Video: Jon Cooper | Pregame TBL vs BOS

A little over two weeks ago at home against New Jersey, the Lightning overwhelmed the Devils with three goals in a roughly six-minute span of the first period to open up a big early lead and then played sound defensive hockey over the final two periods to win handedly. Five nights ago in Sunrise, the Lightning fell behind 4-1.

No problem.

They scored three-unanswered goals over the final 27 minutes to force overtime, where Brayden Point was able to finish the miraculous comeback with his game-winning, power-play tally.

In the Bolts' latest win, they rallied from three separate deficits, including two deficits of two goals, to score a 6-5 shootout victory over the Red Wings in Detroit, Tampa Bay's 13th-consecutive regular season victory over the Red Wings.

The Lightning have been able to deal with nearly every situation thrown at them this season and found a way to come out on top.

"I've been impressed with a lot about this team," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said following the team's morning skate. "They're winning all different ways. Are we happy with some of the goals that have been going in the net? As a group you look and you want to keep it two or under and give yourself a better chance to win, but the players, they just stick with it. They don't bury their head. They don't say, 'Poor us. What's going on here?' They just keep going. It's worked out well for us in the sense that they've been able to come back. The thing is, as a group, they just believe that they're in every single game. It's been a fun group to coach."

The Lightning's current four-game winning run is made even more impressive when considering the team hasn't had All-Star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy in net for any of them. In fact, the Lightning have gone 9-3 since Vasilevskiy suffered a left foot fracture during a practice session November 14 in Pittsburgh. Louis Domingue has filled in brilliantly in Vasilevskiy's absence, going 8-3 in 11-consecutive starts. He currently ranks tied for sixth in the NHL for goaltender wins this season (11). Eddie Pasquale made his NHL debut in the Bolts' last game at Detroit and still was able to emerge victorious in a shootout despite giving up five goals and the Lightning never once playing with a lead.

Tampa Bay has been without Anton Stralman for 13-straight games as he continues to recover from an upper-body injury. The Lightning have lost Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Victor Hedman and two-way forward Ondrej Palat for large stretches too.

Video: Ryan McDonagh on the Boston Bruins

The team continues to not miss a beat.

"I think collectively our group is feeding off one another," Bolts defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "Obviously, Cernak stepping in and playing really well [for Stralman]. All the players stepping up different ways, different fashions. We take a lot of pride in trying to keep our goals against down and certainly when it goes well you feel good. To give up five to Detroit, you want to bring that back in a little bit and play better defensively. That will be our focus here tonight."

The Lightning will likely have to find another way to win when Boston comes to town, the Bruins fired up after a 5-0 loss two nights earlier in Sunrise and getting called out by their head coach in his post-game comments.

Expect the Bruins to get off to a fast start against the Lightning tonight to try to erase the memory of that dubious loss.

But also expect the Lightning to counter whatever the Bruins throw their way.

Nothing, it seems, can rattle this Lightning team.

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