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Stamkos sees winning attitude on Lightning

by Dan Rosen /

NEWARK, N.J. -- Steven Stamkos has been doing his job, scoring goals, dishing out assists and helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win games. He was recognized for it by being named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday.

Stamkos, though, doesn't want to discuss his contributions (eight goals, nine assists for 17 points) because he can finally talk about what the team is doing to win games, something he wasn't able to do a lot of in the previous two seasons.

The Lightning, who haven't made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2011, bring a three-game winning streak into Prudential Center on Tuesday to face the New Jersey Devils (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). They have won eight of their first 11 games in impressive fashion, beating the Chicago Blackhawks (twice), Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild. Their three losses have come against the Boston Bruins (twice) and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tampa Bay, the Penguins and the Toronto Maple Leafs are tied atop the Eastern Conference with 16 points each, but the Lightning are technically in first place because they have played one fewer game than Pittsburgh and Toronto.


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"I don't think many people thought we'd have this record, especially if they looked at the schedule before the year and saw who we were playing," Stamkos told "We played some good Western Conference teams and we've been able to find ways to win. Even the last couple of games against Buffalo and at Florida, we probably haven't played our best, but we found ways to win those games where in the past couple of years we probably would have found ways to lose those.

"Winning is an attitude, it's contagious and it's something we're trying to instill here," he continued. "We know it's extremely early, but you can't get points back once you don't get them. We're taking as many as we can right now."

One of Tampa Bay's best qualities so far this season has been its resiliency. The Lightning are 2-2 when trailing after two periods and 2-0 when tied after two periods. They are 4-0 in games that go into overtime or a shootout.

Tampa Bay blew a 3-1 lead to the Florida Panthers two days ago, but still managed to get the two points by winning the shootout. Twenty-four hours earlier, the Lightning trailed the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 with 7:14 left in the third period, but came back to win in regulation on goals by Martin St. Louis and Ondrej Palat.

Their most impressive comeback came at Chicago on Oct. 5, when they scored twice in the final 10 minutes of the third period to tie the game before eventually winning in the shootout.

"I don't know if it's a mindset, I think we always strive to get a good start every year, but we've just been executing a lot better," St. Louis told "We're getting some quality play from a lot of guys and some good goaltending. When that happens, you have a pretty good chance at grabbing points along the way."

Ben Bishop, who has established himself as Tampa Bay's No. 1 goalie over Anders Lindback, will get the start in net Tuesday against the Devils. He made 20 saves on 22 shots to beat the Sabres in his most recent appearance. Bishop is 7-1 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

"We've got some good goaltending right now and that helps," St. Louis said, referring to Bishop. "That hides some of our mistakes, gives us time to stay in games, gives us time to get going. It gives us a chance."

Here is how the Lightning should line up to start the game Tuesday:

Ryan Malone - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Teddy Purcell

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Richard Panik

Pierre-Cedric Labrie - Nate Thompson - B.J. Crombeen

Victor Hedman - Sami Salo

Matt Carle - Radko Gudas

Eric Brewer - Andrej Sustr

Ben Bishop

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio

Injured: Brian Lee (knee), Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone)


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