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Three things from sweeping a home stand

Bryan Burns recaps Tampa Bay's 2-1 victory over St. Louis to close out the three-game home stand

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Tampa Bay won all three games during its just-completed home stand following a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues at AMALIE Arena on Saturday.

The Lightning opened up a 2-0 lead behind goals from Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov and leaned on Andrei Vasilevskiy to shut down the Blues and preserve the win.

The Bolts improved to 4-1-0 on the season and, as of Saturday night, are tied with Toronto and Detroit for first place in the Atlantic Division.

The Lightning now hit the road for their first extended stretch away from AMALIE Arena with games in Detroit, New Jersey and Columbus.

But before the Bolts take off for the Motor City, let's rewind Saturday's action against St. Louis and dissect how the Lightning were able to reel off their third-consecutive win in Three Things from a home stand sweep.

1. HOME SWEET HOME

The Tampa Bay Lightning just completed one of the more impressive home stand sweeps in recent memory.

On Monday, the Lightning rallied from a two-goal deficit on two separate occasions to upend the Washington Capitals, last year's Presidents' Trophy winner, in overtime.

On Thursday, the Bolts defeated the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, jumping out to a two-goal advantage in that victory and then responding each time the Penguins cut into the lead.

Saturday, playing a St. Louis team that's made the playoffs six straight years and had defeated the Lightning six of the last seven times they met, the Bolts played about as efficient a game as they've played in some time to stymie the Blues.

"I thought the second period might have been one of our best periods," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "This was not a complete game. St. Louis was a better team than us in the first period. But once we tucked that behind us, Vasy helped us out by keeping it zeros. That was big for us, obviously, and when you get the lead, that's always a good thing. But I liked a lot of what we did tonight."

The last time the Lightning swept a home stand of three games or more came during the 2015-16 season (Jan. 27-Feb. 5, 2016).

Tampa Bay has won four straight at home to start the season and six straight dating back to last season. The Bolts are 8-0-1 over their last nine contests at AMALIE Arena.

"We like the way we're playing right now," Lightning center Tyler Johnson said. "We wanted to be a little bit better defensively, but I think every game we have gotten a little bit better so that's a big plus for us. We're scoring goals and getting those chances, so if we can continue playing the way we're playing, I like our odds"

2. POWER SURGE

Last season, Tampa Bay scored more power-play goals than any other team in the league.

The start to the 2017-18 season looks to be more of the same from that special teams unit.

Tampa Bay has netted at least one power-play goal in all five games so far this season and has six total. Tyler Johnson scored the latest man-advantage marker, sniping a shot from the left dot past Jake Allen at 8:20 of the second period to record the game's first goal.

"If you can get that goal, that's basically starting the game off 1-0, so that's huge for you," Johnson said. "We try to take a lot of pride in our special teams. I think it's been better over the last year or so, and we've just got to keep on building on that."

Another positive for the Lightning? It's not just one power-play unit that's doing all the damage. Yes, the first power-play group of Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stakmkos, Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov has recorded the bulk of the power-play goals, but the second unit with Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde and Mikhail Sergachev has also been creating plenty of scoring opportunities when they're on the ice.

Saturday, that second unit was rewarded.

Johnson's goal was an example of the numerous options the Lightning have with the man-advantage. Johnson skated into the left circle, and the defense sagged away, expecting him to pass. Instead, Johnson fired a quick-release shot that Allen never fully read.

Video: STL@TBL: Johnson wires a quick PPG past Allen

Both power-play units have been a major boost for the Lightning, scoring goals at opportune times and posing a threat each time the opponent takes a penalty.

3. ANDREI THE GIANT

Andrei Vasilevskiy will be the first to say his goals-against average and save percentage aren't where they should be.

Nobody is a harsher critic on himself than Vasilevskiy.

But through the first five games of the season, Vasilevskiy might just be the top performer for the Lightning despite the number of goals the Bolts have allowed.

Video: STL@TBL: Vasilevskiy sprawls to shut down Stastny

"I think if you ask anyone in this room, they would say Vasy has been our best player," Johnson said following the win over St. Louis. "He stood on his head a couple of occasions for us, and he's just a great goaltender. We're fortunate to have him back there."

Saturday's showing was more in line with the type of numbers the Lightning, and Vasilevskiy, would like to see from their goalie. The 23-year-old Russian stopped 28-of-29 shots and didn't allow a goal until 3:23 remained when Vladimir Tarasenko used a host of bodies in front of Vasilevskiy to rifle a shot into the net that Vasilevskiy never saw coming.

"He just used that moving screen real well and shot it at the right time," Vasilevskiy said. "He's one of the best players in the NHL, so I'm not surprised."

Vasilevskiy, too, is becoming one of the best players in the NHL too. He's handled the increased workload since taking over as the Bolts' No. 1 starter flawlessly. He's made big save after big save to either keep the Bolts in the lead or allow them to get back into a game.

And he's giving the players in front of him a ton of confidence.

"I consider Vasilevskiy one of the top two, top three goalies in the league," Nikita Kucherov said. "He's done a great job for us so far. Having him behind our back is huge. We always know he's got our back."

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