TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – An electric 4th line combo and special teams are creating a contagious affect throughout the Bolts team. The Bolts played one of their best games of the season last Thursday versus the Blackhawks and the consistency has remained versus the Ducks Saturday and the Sabres last night. Keep in mind, these step-up performances came without Kucherov and Stamkos, last Thursday, then without Stamkos Saturday and last night. We’re hopeful to see a healthy Stammer back in the lineup Wednesday, but it’s up in the air. Kucherov was luckily able to return as of Saturday and has broken his silence, collecting 2 goals and 3 points in the last 2 games.
Coach Cooper feels that the guys set the tone for this game in Sweden, which confidence wise could be the case, but it has been the last 2 games before the Sabres rematch that the Lightning appeared to find their footing. The guys are skating hard and getting better reads off each another. One duo in particular, Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn create opportunities when they’re on the ice: They both play very smart, relentless hockey. Some of their similarities may explain why they read each other so well.
As we mentioned earlier, the Bolts special teams have begun to look familiar in the sense that this month penalty kills have been getting back to the best in the league. Last night, special teams kicked it up a notch with 2 short-handed goals within 49 seconds.
The Lightning defense has come together well, starting with being ranked third in the league for defensive men point leaders. They’ve had less gaps in the D-Zone and have been making some fast corrections. The Sabres’ best chance all game is when they applied pressure to the Bolts along the boards, but that didn’t hold up in the 3rd period. The Lightning made it entirely their game.
Kasey Hudson is the Sports Associate Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org