Lightning look to continue recent home success against Chicago
History is on the Lightning's side as the Blackhawks visit AMALIE Arenaby Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com
The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to bounce back from its first regulation loss of November -- a 5-3 defeat at the hands of the New York Islanders on Saturday -- when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at AMALIE Arena in a pre-Thanksgiving heavyweight matchup.
For a Lightning team hoping to avoid losing two games in a row for the first time this season, there might not be a better opponent next up on the schedule.
Tampa Bay has won six-straight regular season contests at home over Chicago, including last season's thriller that saw the Bolts rally from a 4-1 deficit in the second period to force overtime and grab both points on Yanni Goude's game-winner.
Video: CHI@TBL: Gourde buries OT game-winner on a breakaway
The Lightning haven't fallen to Chicago at home since the 2008-09 season.
So why are the Bolts so good when facing the Blackhawks on home ice?
"I don't know, if we had a lot of success against them, we might have a Stanley Cup," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said, referring to the Bolts' loss to the Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. "I think they're fun games to play because there's a lot of, and I would say electrifying talent on both sides of the puck. You're not going to see much better than Kane on one side and Kucherov on the other. I think they both admire each other, the way they play and they're fun to watch. And then you throw in the Toews' and the Stamkos' and you just go down the list of All-Star after All-Star, they're fun games to be a part of."
All-time, the Lightning are 11-4-1 with three ties at home in the regular season versus Chicago, the Bolts' third-best home points percentage (.684) against any NHL team.
"I think we always like playing at home because of our fans, but when you're playing against Chicago, you know you're playing against a really good team," Lightning center Tyler Johnson said. "I think our guys kind of prepare a little extra for it. It's always a good battle. We know we have to play our A game, otherwise they're going to take it to us. We're going to try to be ready for that."
Part of the reason for the excitement that surrounds the Tampa Bay-Chicago matchup at AMALIE Arena is the energy supplied by the crowd. The Blackhawks typically bring more fans to Tampa than any other team in the NHL. The buzz in the building from the two fan bases going back and forth can be felt on the ice as well.
"Those Original Six teams, they usually travel well, and the building for whatever reason when they come to town, it just has a different feel to it," Cooper said. "It always seems that we're playing them around this time, like a Thanksgiving or a holiday or something where it feels like half the city of Chicago's traveled down here. They're usually pretty fun games."
Video: Lightning Head Coach Cooper on facing Chicago
The Lightning's regular season success against Chicago isn't limited strictly to AMALIE Arena, however. The Bolts haven't lost in regulation to the Blackhawks in the regular season since December 13, 2009, going 9-0-2 in the 11 games following.
That bodes well for a Lightning team attempting to get back in the win column after a disappointing performance against the Islanders.
"When things are going well, sometimes you forget how hard you worked to have that streak or to play that well," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "We saw the video of the last game, and it definitely wasn't the standard that we set through the previous five during that win streak. We'll look to get back on track, and usually when you're playing a good team like the Blackhawks, there's some extra motivation, especially coming off a loss, to have a good start to the game. So, we'll look to do that tonight."
DOTCHIN OUT: Cooper confirmed Tampa Bay defenseman Jake Dotchin will not play tonight. He hasn't practiced the last two days and was absent from the Bolts' morning skate.
"He's banged up," Cooper said.
Dotchin is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
Meanwhile, Cedric Paquette, who skated for a third-consecutive day, will be a game-time decision. Paquette has missed the last 13 games with an upper-body injury.
"He's a guy that adds a lot of sandpaper, a lot of grit, a lot of tenacity, great on the penalty kill as well," Stamkos said. "He's a big part of this team. That line was going really well before he got hurt, so whether he's back tonight or the near future, hopefully he can get that spark back."