When you’re hot, you’re hot. The Tampa Bay Lightning (40-15-5) won 11 games in a row, which set a franchise record. The Lightning edged out the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime earlier in the week to keep their win streak alive.
The sizzling-hot Lightning are 22-2-1 since December 23, with win streaks spanning 10 games and 11 games.
Last season, the Lighting won 62 games propelled by a 10-game win streak. This season, the Lightning posted two double-digit win streaks. At the start of the new year, the Lighting won 10 in a row.
The Lighting are the NHL’s top scoring team. They also have the fifth-best defense in the league, allowing only 2.65 goals against per game. Most of that is attributed to their Russian stonewall, Andrei Vasilevskiy.
“It’s pretty surreal this run we’ve been on the last couple of months,” said backup goalie Curtis McElhinney. “This 11-game run has been a lot of fun. It’s special, it seems like we’re going about our business and it’s not really so much about the streak.”
The Lightning became the first team to secure 40 wins this season. They have 85 points, but trail the Boston Bruins (38-11-12) for best overall team in the Eastern Conference with 88 points.
10-0 and 11-0
It’s not easy to string together a winning streak in the NHL that lasts more than a few games. It’s even rarer to unleash a 10-game streak. And it’s been near impossible for a team to embark on multiple double-digit win streaks.
Only the Boston Bruins pulled off that feat. The last time it happened was back in 1970-71. The Bruins also achieved the feat in the infancy of the NHL during the 1929-30 season.
The Lightning’s first streak began around Christmas, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. The Lightning had dropped two in a row in overtime, and were ensconced in their worst downturn of the season with a 5-6-2 stretch. The Lighting peeled off 10 wins in a row by outscoring opponents 43-17. Their goalies pitched two shutouts, and their stifling defense held opponents to one or fewer goals six times during the first win streak.
Scoring helps, but a strong defense and hot goalie wins the Stanley Cup. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has been outstanding this season with a 32-9-3 record. The Russian has a 2.42 goals against average, and is saving 92.1% of shots on goal. He’s also stuffed 7-of-8 shootouts.
The Lighting also have one of the best penalty kill units. They’re ranked #5 by killing 83.3% of all penalties. Their goalies allowed 32 power play goals this season.
Scoring in Flashes and Bunches
The Lightning lead the NHL with 215 goals. They are ranked #1 in scoring with 3.55 goals per game. They are also seventh overall with 44 power-play goals.
The Lightning have four, 20-goal scorers with right winger Nikita Kucherov closing in on 30. Kucherov scored 29 goals and added 44 assists to lead the team with 73 points.
Center Steve Stamkos tallied 27 goals and 35 assists, including a team-high eight power-play goals.
Brayden Point added 21 goals and 36 assists, while Alex Killorn scored 23 times and assisted on 21 goals. Both Killorn and Point scored seven power-play goals.
Meanwhile, defenseman Victor Hedman has the magic touch this season. He’s second on the team in assists with 40. He’s tallied 49 points, including nine goals.
The key to the winning streaks is simple according to defenseman Cameron Gaunce.
“Scoring more goals than the other team,” Gaunce joked.
During the current 11-game streak, the Lightning outscored opponents 38-19. They held opponents to one or fewer goals five times.
On Deck: Vegas and Arizona
The Lightning are in the middle of a three-game West Coast swing. They edged out the Colorado Avalanche (34-18-7) to start the trip. The Avs are one of the top teams from Western Conference.
The Lightning now face the sixth-best team in the west when they hit up Sin City for a showdown against the Vegas Golden Knights (31-22-8). They end their road trip against the feisty Phoenix Coyotes (20-25-8), who currently occupy the #8 playoff seed in the west.
The Lightning return home to Tampa to play the Toronto Maple Leafs (32-22-8) next week. The Leafs are on the playoff bubble, and fighting to win one of the wild-card spots.
The Lighting are on a mission to avenge a first-round knockout in the 2019 NHL Playoffs where they were upended and swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets. After destroying the competition in the regular season, the Lightning were stunned in the playoffs.
Two seasons ago, Jon Cooper guided the Tampa Bay Lighting to the Eastern Conference Finals, but they failed to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
In 2015, Cooper guided the Lighting to the Stanley Cup Finals, but they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
Cooper secured two straight division titles for the Lightning. With 22 games remaining, they can still catch the Bruins.
William Hill took notice of the win streak, and the Tampa Bay Lightning improved to 11/2 odds to win the 2020 Stanley Cup.