This Is What The Lightning Needed

Published Oct. 13, 2017

It's the start the Lightning needed.

Have they given up a few too many chances and goals? Yes. Do they need to get better? Yes.

But there is No way to not like the way this season has started. The Bolts have won three of four to start the season, and the last two have come over Washington and Pittsburgh. Problems?

Thursday night at a rocking Amalie Arena, the Lightning beat the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, 5-4, a rousing affair that had a lot of fast break to it. Great fun to watch.

This after beating Washington on Monday night.

Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. Win win.

Yes, it's early, but think this doesn't matter to a Lightning team coming off a shaky non-playoff 2016. This start might matter more to this team than any other one in the league. Consider that the Lightning were 0-3 against Pittsburgh last season and was 1-5 against Washington over the last two seasons.

"Those two teams, the Capitals and Pittsburgh, are two teams we've always had trouble with in the past couple of the years," Lightning forward Alex Killorn said. "To get two wins at the beginning of the season in front of our home crowd, it's huge. Momentum wise, we want to just keep going, keep building."

Throw in Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman's first goals of the season. Throw in another one from Nikita Kucherov. That's a goal in each of the first four games for Kucherov. If I'm the Lightning, I'll take my chances and night when Stamkos, Kucherov and Hedman score.

Throw in the first two goals of two goals of defenseman Slater Koekkoek's NHL career and four assists from Killorn. And even though his goals against looks shaky, Andre Vasilevskiy made some big saves Thursday. He had to, considering Crosby and the Pens had 40 shots.

Forty shots against isn't a long-term winning formula for the Lightning.

"There's still some areas we'd like to clean up, still too many goals against," Stamkos said.

But, hey, the start is everything, and it's a good one so far, with 4-1 St. Louis here on Saturday night.

"We just won a hockey game against the defending champs," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "I think any coach will take that and like the game. … Coming out of camp, you want to get off to a good start. You don't want to be chasing. I mean, there are teams that have stumbled out of the gates and been fine, but for us, I thought it was imperative that we get off to a good start."

And they have. One more thing ,,,

"It was a fun for the fans," Stamkos said. "For the team, too."