Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Jones: Lightning starting to resemble the team we expected it to be, but it's just a start

TAMPA -- Where has that team been?

The magic returned Tuesday night at Amalie Arena for the Lightning.

Ben Bishop pitched a shutout. Nikita Kucherov had a pair of goals. Jonathan Drouin added a goal. And the Lightning blasted the Kings, 5-0, for the team's first back-to-back victories since right before Christmas.

All's well again, right?

Eh, not so fast. A tough back-to-back trip is coming up with games against the Wild, which might be the best team in hockey, and the Jets. This feel-good vibe could be erased in a span of 24 hours this weekend.

But for a night – well, two nights now – the Lightning is starting to resemble the team we expected all along this season. If the Lightning does have a run left in it, this is only the beginning. Two games does not a hot streak make. This has to be just the beginning of, say, a seven-wins-in-eight-games stretch, or 10-out-of-12, something like that.

What is clear is Tampa Bay can no longer afford extended losing streaks, and by extended, we're talking anything more than a game or two.

While there was plenty to like about the past two games, most notably the play of Bishop and the team's overall compete level, the Lightning still has a ton of issues. I'll explore what the problems have been in a column later this week.

For now, there's a pulse, a sign of life, a hope that this season is not over just yet.

But it's only just a start.

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