TAMPA — Watching the Lightning's 5-0 victory over the Kings on Tuesday, it felt like a flashback to the previous special seasons.
There was goalie Ben Bishop bailing his team out with 19 first-period saves en route to his first shutout of the season.
There was the blend of speed and skill. Tampa Bay scored four goals off the rush. It even got a goal from a defenseman (Braydon Coburn).
"(Tuesday) was one of those games where we broke out," Bishop said.
It remains to be seen whether the Lightning's first back-to-back victories since Dec. 20-22 is a sign of a team finally ready to go on its elusive run. But considering Tampa Bay is still fighting for its playoff life, it's very encouraging to get the much-needed results.
"We've got no choice but to have it go that way," coach Jon Cooper said. "What's the cliche? Every game is a playoff game. We've got to keep building each game and I truly believe we have. And I truly believe now guys are getting rewarded."
It started with Bishop, who has had an admittedly up and down season, one filled with trade speculation that will continued until the March 1 deadline. But with his second straight strong performance, Bishop gave the Lightning (24-24-6) a lift when it was shaky in the first, enabling it to hold a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
"We felt extremely fortunate to come to the room with the lead," Cooper said. "Clearly Ben Bishop had a big part of that."
So did Nikita Kucherov. The All-Star, coming off one of his better games Saturday, delivered with two goals. Both were set up by Vladislav Namestnikov, who matched his point total from the previous 11 games combined.
"I felt good today," Kucherov said. "I hope I can continue to keep playing well."
Jonathan Drouin had his 16th of the season, a dazzling shot in the first. Gabriel Dumont, who has been impressive in his callup, scored his first NHL goal since April 2013.
It was the Lightning's largest margin of victory since beating the Islanders 6-1 Nov. 1. Tampa Bay shut it down the final two periods, giving up nine shots. The Lightning is finally putting it all together, and will need to heading into a back to-back on the road Friday and Saturday in Minnesota and Winnipeg before a five-day bye week.
"It seems like a few times this year, the goalie played well, but we couldn't score," Cooper said. "If we were scoring, maybe we weren't playing that great defensively. In all facets of the game (Tuesday), the keys — we played well defensively for the most part, our goaltending was great and our penalty kill was strong. Usually those add up to a favorable result."
And a vintage performance.
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Drouin 16, 7:46.
Second Period—2, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 20 (Namestnikov, Sustr), 6:55. 3, Tampa Bay, Dumont 1 (Hedman, J.Brown), 11:02. 4, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 21 (Namestnikov, Witkowski), 18:18.
Third Period—5, Tampa Bay, Coburn 2 (Drouin, Vermin), 13:08.
Shots on Goal—Los Angeles 19-3-6—28. Tampa Bay 6-8-7—21.
Power-play opportunities—Los Angeles 0 of 2; Tampa Bay 0 of 2.
Goalies—Los Angeles, Budaj 25-16-3 (21 shots-16 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 13-12-3 (28-28).
A—19,092 (19,204). T—2:25.