The Tampa Bay Lightning concluded a successful, four-game homestand with a 5-2 win over Calgary, the Bolts fourth win in a row.
The Lightning improved their record at Amalie Arena to 6-1-1 but now head back on the road for three games in the Midwest (Columbus, Detroit and Chicago).
What did we learn about the Bolts -- now tied with Montreal for first place in the Atlantic Division with a game in hand -- last night? We’ll help guide you through the minutiae.
1. After some uneven performances in Canada, Tampa Bay’s attack is back
The Lightning averaged 2.8 goals a game during their road trip to Western Canada and Minnesota, only breaking the two-goal barrier twice in five games.
Back on home soil, the Bolts’ offense ignited.
In four games at Amalie Arena, the Lightning scored 20 goals, an average of five a game. Tampa Bay matched a season high by scoring seven times in the victory over Arizona, and the Bolts had at least four tallies in each victory. Currently, Tampa Bay is second in the NHL in scoring at 3.62 a game, trailing only Pittsburgh (4 a game).
The Lightning jumped on teams from the start too, scoring the first goal in each game in the first period. In fact, the Bolts only trailed once during the homestand, that coming against Washington when Eric Fehr put the Caps up 2-1 early in the second period before Ondrej Palat tied the game seven minutes later.
In 240 minutes of action, Tampa Bay spent a grand total of 7:18 playing from behind.
2. The Bolts are getting scoring contributions from nearly the entire lineup
Despite registering 20 goals during the homestand, leading scorer Steven Stamkos only had two of them, underscoring the diversity of Tampa Bay’s attack.
Eleven different players found the back of the net for the Lightning.
Nikita Kucherov, who scored his first goal of the season in Minnesota, exploded for his first career hat trick in the Bolts opening game of the homestand against Arizona.
Brian Boyle, brought in during the offseason for the non-offensive intangibles he brings to a team, was the Bolts’ second leading scorer during the homestand with three tallies.
Defenseman Jason Garrison scored seven goals in 81 games last season for Vancouver. He registered game-winning goals in back-to-back games to defeat Philadelphia and Washington.
Even Cedric Paquette, a rookie who started the season in Syracuse, got in on the action, scoring his debut goal Thursday against Calgary and following it up with goal No. 2.
“It’s big,” Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. “If Stammer’s line’s not scoring, somebody else is picking that up. If you want to have success, it’s my belief you need to have for sure three lines that can put the puck in the back of the net and another line that can check…If you can be a threat all the time, then it’s hard for [the opponent]. ‘Who are you going to send these top-pairing Ds out against?’ It gives you balance, splits the ice time up, you’re fresher, there’s just so many advantages for it.”
Valtteri Filppula (2), Matt Carle, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ryan Callahan, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson also scored during the four-game win streak for Tampa Bay.
Overall this season, 16 skaters have scored for the Lightning.
3. A difficult portion of the schedule awaits the Bolts
Starting with Thursday’s matchup versus Calgary, the Lightning enter one of their busiest stretches of the season, playing 10 games in 17 days.
The win over the Flames got the Bolts off on the right foot.
“We’ve got a grind ahead of us, good to start it off this way,” Cooper said.
Six of the ten games come away from Amalie Arena. Also, six of the teams on the upcoming schedule qualified for the playoffs last season, including road meetings against the Stanley Cup Finalist New York Rangers and the Western Conference Finalist Chicago Blackhawks.