1. Lightning

Lightning all about piling up points at home (w/ video)

Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrate Johnson's goal during the first period of Wednesday's  (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrate Johnson's goal during the first period of Wednesday's (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Published Jan. 2, 2017

TAMPA — The Lightning is more than halfway through a five-game homestand it deemed crucial toward a playoff-spot run, and so far, well, so good.

Saturday's win against Carolina gave the Lighting five points through the first three games. The Lightning is two points behind Nos. 2 and 3 Ottawa and Boston in the Atlantic Division and entered Sunday two points back of Philadelphia for the second wild card spot.

"It's a good step in the right direction," wing Alex Killorn said. "You want to get incrementally better in the standings."

Add home wins against Detroit and St. Louis before a quick trip to Washington just before Christmas and the Lightning has recorded nine points in its past five home games. It is an important stretch, coach Jon Cooper said, because waiting for the Lightning this month is a six-game, 13-day trip that crisscrosses the country, beginning Jan. 16 in Los Angeles and ending Jan. 26 in Sunrise, with stops between in Anaheim, San Jose, Arizona and Chicago.

But the Lightning is used to that kind of grind after spending a good deal of October and November on the road.

"We were so road heavy, we kind of grinded through that," Cooper said. "We have to grind through now the end of January. In between that we have seven of eight at home, and we have to (get points) at home. We're not done yet, and if we want to get back in this race, we have to do that and we are."

Killorn said it was important to gain points on this home­stand against Toronto and Carolina, both below the Lightning in the standings. "We want to keep them behind us," he said.

He also said it was important to beat Montreal in the game that began the homestand because they Lightning is trying to catch the division-leading Canadiens (eight points ahead). But it was the way the Lightning won that game that could be the key to the season, Killorn said.

Trailing 2-0 in the first period, the Lightning forced overtime with a third-period comeback that produced an overtime win. Killorn said the win could prove to be a big shift in momentum: "Hopefully, that Montreal game was the turning point."

NOTES: Forward Adam Erne was recalled from AHL Syracuse. That means the lower-body injury to forward Brian Boyle might keep him out of Tuesday's game against the Jets. … The Lightning practices at 11 a.m. today at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. The practice is open to the public.


  1. Tampa Bay Lightning trainer Tom Mulligan attends to right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) who was injured during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. Lightning right wing Mathieu Joseph (7), center Brayden Point (21) and defenseman Erik Cernak (81) look on. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    Last year’s NHL MVP was injured blocking a shot early in the Lightning’s 5-2 loss Saturday
  2. Lightning coach Jon Cooper, left, said Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in goal for the Lightning Saturday night against Washington at Amalie Arena. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Braydon Coburn returned to the ice, but there’s no update on Tyler Johnson
  3. Twenty years after making his debut as an NHL coach with the Lightning, Steve Ludzik is in dire need of a liver transplant. After a Facebook post by his wife MaryAnn earlier this week, a flood of potential donors have come forward. A handful have been identified as possible matches, but more are still being sought. Call (416) 340-5400 for more information. [Times files]
    Once diagnosed with Parkinson’s during his brief tenure as Lightning coach from 1999-01, Steve Ludzik is now in the fight of his life.
  4. Andrei Vasilevskiy was back to his usual acrobatic maneuvers while stopping 27 of 29 shots Thursday night, including this second period save on Boston Bruins center Joakim Nordstrom (20) with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) helping. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    John Romano | Tampa Bay’s early-season struggles were matched by the goaltender, whose numbers were not as dominant as last season. In recent games, that seems to have changed.
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) beats Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during the second period of the game on Thursday, December 12, 2019, between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    The captain has a four-game goal streak and is one of the league’s hottest players this month.
  6. Bruins play-by-play broadcaster shared some thoughts during Thursday's game against the Lightning. [DIANA NEARHOS  |  TIMES]
    Three questions with Jack Edwards, the Boston Bruins’ legendary play-by-play broadcaster.
  7. The Lightning took on the Bruins at home on Thursday.
  8. Fans gather in Thunder Alley at Amalie Arena before the start of the 2019-2020 NHL season home opener between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers on Thursday, October 3, 2019, in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Bring a new, unwrapped toy to either (or both!) of the next two games
  9. Boston's David Pastrnak, left, and Washington's Alex Ovechkin were the NHL's top two goal-scorers through Tuesday's games. Both are coming to Tampa this week to face the Lightning at Amalie Arena.
    The Lightning face the NHL’s top two teams Thursday and Saturday
  10. The Lightning's Anthony Cirelli (71) and goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy, right, watch the puck as the Panthers' Noel Acciari (55) defends during the second period on Tuesday in Sunrise. [LUIS M. ALVAREZ  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay doesn’t make costly mistakes and pays attention to details on defense, just like the team has been talking about.