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Lightning journal: Steven Stamkos changing his shootout luck

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) charges through the neutral zone with the puck during the first period of Thursdayâ\u0080\u009A\u0080\u0099s (12/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) charges through the neutral zone with the puck during the first period of Thursdayâ\u0080\u009A\u0080\u0099s (12/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Published Dec. 22, 2017

TAMPA — For all his scoring prowess during 5-one-5s and power plays, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has struggled in shootouts during his career, going 8-for-37 entering this season. But not this season.

Stamkos is 2-for-2 after converting during the third round Thursday to give the Lightning a 4-3 victory against the Senators.

What's changed?

"I'll keep that a secret in case any other goalies are paying attention to this interview," Stamkos said.

"It's no secret I've struggled in the past in the shootout. I have a different approach the last three or four times and it's worked, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing."

RELATED: Lightning tops Senators in shootout.

C Brayden Point scored during the first round for the Lightning. RW Nikita Kucherov was up next and broke his stick on his shot. G Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped LW Tom Pyatt and C Matt Duchene of the Senators to set Stamkos up for the clincher.

Stamkos beat G Craig Anderson on his right-side.

Point, who was nearly money last season in shootouts, is 1-for-3 this season.

What's behind his success?

"I wish I could tell you, because then I could replicate it," C Tyler Johnson said. "I don't know. He's just really good at it."

Quote of the day

"We're very excited to be back home playing in front of our fans. We owe it to them to put our best effort forward."

D Victor Hedman, on the Lightning's 13-2-1 home record before Thursday's game

RELATED: Joe Smith's takeaways from Thursday's Lightning-Senators game.

Halfway to first playoff goal

The Lightning's 50 points through its first 33 games were the most in franchise history. That's great, but at this point of the season, coach Jon Cooper said, it's only halfway to the team's goal.

"We may be the quickest to 50 in whatever the stat is, but you need 100 to get to the playoffs," Cooper said, "so the way we look at it, we're halfway there."

What Cooper found odd was that Thursday's game against the Senators was only the eighth the Lightning had played within the Atlantic Division.

"If you want to make the playoffs, you got to beat the teams in your division," Cooper said. "It's just been weird that we've played a bunch of teams in the (Western Conference) and the Metro (Division) but none in the Atlantic. … We're going to play them at some point, and it kind of starts (Thursday), so these are big games for us."

ALL EYES GALLERY: The Lightning's win in photos.

The Lightning won five of its first seven division games, beating the Panthers and the Red Wings twice each, and the Sabres once. It plays five of its next eight games against division opponents, including four straight on a five-game trip that starts Dec. 31.

Slap shots

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C Brayden Point will sign autographs from 5-6 p.m. today at Tampa Bay Sports at International Plaza in Tampa. Fans are asked to bring an unopened toy to the signing to be donated to Metropolitan Ministries. … Defensemen Slater Koekkoek and Andrej Sustr were the healthy scratches.

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