Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Rare strong first period fuels Lightning victory (w/ video)

TAMPA — The fast start that coach Jon Cooper and his players have been talking about since the beginning of the season made a rare appearance Thursday with a two-goal first period during the Lightning's 4-1 victory against the visiting Islanders.

"You get the lead, your chances of winning are better," Cooper said.

F Steven Stamkos scored the first goal of the game on a power play at 8:03 of the first period. It was the fifth time in 14 games the Lightning scored the first goal. F Nikita Kucherov made it 2-0 three minutes later.

"The power play helped us out," Cooper said. "So that got it kick-started."

The Lightning has more first-period goals in two games against the Islanders (five) than it has in its other 13 games (four).

MORE LIGHTNING-ISLES: Goalie Vasilevskiy weathers a storm to preserve a win.

HEDMAN SETS RECORD: Victor Hedman became the franchise's all-time leader in assists for defensemen with No. 187 when he assisted on Kucherov's goal.

"It's a good feeling, obviously," Hedman said. "I've been a part of this organization for a long time (the Lightning draft him second overall in 2009). Hopefully I'll get a few more down the road. To have the record is big and something that I'm proud of."

Said Stamkos: "Not only does he have a great shot, which people have to respect, he sees the ice so well. When you have that respect in the league, it creates opportunities to get your head up and make those plays. Nine times out of 10 he's making it and (the puck is) on your tape and it usually results in a goal, so pretty proud of him to have that record so early in his career."

DROUIN UPDATE: Islanders D Calvin de Haan faced the Lightning for the first time since Nov. 1, when his hit to the head on F Jonathan Drouin knocked Drouin out of that game. Drouin has not played since, missing his fourth game Thursday with what the team lists as an upper-body injury.

"I'm not a dirty player," de Haan told Newsday. "I've never been suspended. I don't think I was ever suspended from school, either. I hope (Drouin) is okay."

F Ryan Callahan immediately dropped the gloves and fought de Haan.

When asked if there would be a carry-over into Thursday's game, Callahan said, "I don't think so, no. It is what it is. It happened. I ended up fighting him right after, and I think after that, it gets put to bed pretty quickly."

,Cooper said he hopes Drouin returns soon.

"It's all about how he's feeling," Cooper said. "He wants to come back more than anybody, but we don't want him back unless he's 100 percent."

NUTS AND BOLTS: The Lightning has been outscored by four goals, 29-25, during 5-on-5 situations this season. It entered Thursday's game tied for 21st in the league in goal differentials during 5-on-5s. … D Nikita Nesterov was a healthy scratch. … G Andrei Vasilevskiy made his fifth start of the season.

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