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Secondary scoring keeps Bolts rolling

Tampa Bay's been benefiting from offensive contributions up and down the lineup in recent games

by Bryan Burns /

While the Tampa Bay Lightning have seen two of their big offensive guns go down of late with injuries to Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, the Lightning haven't seen any drop off in their offensive production.

In fact, it's even picked up a bit.

Kucherov missed Tampa Bay's contest in Chicago due to an upper-body injury sustained two nights earlier late in the second period at St. Louis, and the Lightning still lit the lamp four times at the United Center.

Stamkos was a spectator for the final two periods in Chicago because of a lower-body injury picked up in the first period against the Blackhawks and was forced to the bench for Saturday's home game against Anaheim, and the Bolts found the back of the net six times.

Video: Point on his recent stretch of excellent play.

That's 10 goals over two games where two of your leading scorers are either absent or miss significant time.

With Kucherov and Stamkos absent - and Stamkos will again be out when the Lightning host the Buffalo Sabres at AMALIE Arena tonight - the Lightning have gotten major contributions from secondary scoring to offset the loss of their biggest weapons.

"It was a big key last year too is different guys stepping up offensively at different nights," Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "You know your big guns up front are going to lead the way for sure, but when they're not there, we've got confidence in that next wave of guys, those guys right below that watch Stammer and Kuch and the effect they have on our team offensively. I think it gives them confidence. Our forward group as a whole when you see those guys making plays and you want to come through when you're out there in situations the coach puts you out there, and it's good to see them playing with confidence."

Anthony Cirelli had just one goal through the first 16 games of the season but has scored in each of the last four games to match his career long for a goal streak and the longest goal run on the Lightning this season.

Alex Killorn has tallied points in seven-straight games, matching his career long for a scoring run. Killorn's six-game assist streak is the longest active streak in the NHL.

Victor Hedman also owns a seven-game point streak, tied for the longest of his career.

And Brayden Point ended a six-game goal drought by posting three markers over the last two games, including a pair of goals in the 6-2 win over Anaheim for his 15th career multi-goal game.

"It's been nice. Our team all year is we've been pretty consistently getting contributions from all four lines and all our D," Point said. "It's nice to see. Hopefully that keeps up."

Look at Tampa Bay's offensive numbers, and there's not one player that's been doing the bulk of the heavy lifting like Stamkos, Kucherov and Point did last season. Sure Stamkos and Kucherov lead the Bolts for scoring, but Hedman is right there too in a three-way tie for the top spot, each posting 20 points through 20 games. Stamkos, Kucherov, Point and Ondrej Palat all have seven goals to form a four-way logjam among the Lightning's goal leaders.

But continue going down the list. Cirelli, Killorn, Pat Maroon, Anthony Cirelli and Kevin Shattenkirk are all right behind the Lightning goal leaders with five markers apiece. Hedman, Mathieu Joseph and Tyler Johnson have each chipped in four goals.

Video: Jon Cooper on the Buffalo Sabres

For scoring, the Lightning have 11 players with at least 10 points.

It's that balanced scoring that's allowed the Lightning to continue firing pucks into the net - they pace the NHL currently for goals per game at 3.70 a contest - and maintain their solid play of late having won five of their last seven games.

And it's a distribution of wealth that'll have to continue, at least for the time being, as Stamkos remains out with a lower-body injury that'll sideline him for the time being.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said the hopes the Lightning captain will be available for one or two of his team's four games this week.

"He's not playing tonight, that's for certain," Cooper said. "After that, we'll have to see."

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