Time at home means time to practice for Lightning

J.T. Miller scored his first goal as a Lightning on Saturday. He has three points in his last two games. DIRK SHADD | Times
J.T. Miller scored his first goal as a Lightning on Saturday. He has three points in his last two games. DIRK SHADD | Times
Published March 4 2018

TAMPA – Saturday's shootout victory against the Flyers came in the Lightning's 29th home game this season, the fewest number of home games for any team in league.

The Lightning is about to change its standing on that list.

Saturday was the start of eight consecutive games at Amalie Arena. What's more, the longest home stand of the season comes with plenty of practice days. Eight are scheduled, beginning with Monday's workout at the arena.

"The guys have been looking forward to it," captain Steven Stamkos said, "getting more practices, getting more touches in practice, fine-tuning the game down the stretch to getting into the playoffs. It's a welcome stretch for us. We need to make some improvements, for sure, but we love playing in front of our fans and want to take advantage of that schedule."

Practice time has been scarce during recent weeks with the Lightning playing so many road games. The travel schedule has cut into practice time between games. Because of that, coach Jon Cooper has cancelled a number of practices with the idea of keeping his players rested for what he hopes is an extended postseason run.

Sudden impact

C J.T. Miller scored his first goal since joining the team at the Feb. 26 trade deadline during the Lightning's third-period comeback Saturday.

With the Lightning trailing 5-3, Miller skated to the net and was in perfect position to bang home a rebound off a shot by C Brayden Point. The goal started a run of three straight goals that gave the Lightning a short-lived 6-5 lead.

"He was driving hard and put it in," D Victor Hedman said. "That's what we knew what he was going to bring to the team. … It's always tough to play against him. He's very hard on the puck and goes to the net. It's great to have him on our side and doing that for us. (He's) a big-time player, and we're looking to see what he can do for us down the stretch before the playoff starts."

It was the 14th goal this season for Miller, who came over from the Rangers with D Ryan McDonagh. With three points in his past two games with the Lightning, Miller has 43 this season.

Turning 50

Rookie C Yanni Gourde has 50 points this season, good for fourth on the team.

When asked after Saturday's game what he would had done if someone had told him before the season that he would get 50, Gourde said, "I would probably laugh. I didn't come into this year thinking I'm going to make 50. I just go out there and try to do my job and help this team win. I try to bring energy every game. I just got to focus on that. If I do, most of the time points are going to come and chances are going to come."

Gourde's 22 goals are also fourth on the team.

Gourde is the fourth rookie in team history to record 50 points in a season. He joins Brad Richards (62 in 2000-01), Ondrej Palat (59 in '13-'14) and Tyler Johnson (50 in '13-'14).

Contact Roger Mooney at [email protected] Follow @rogermooney50.

Up next

vs. Panthers, 7:30 Tuesday, Amalie Arena

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