GAME NIGHT: Tampa Bay Lightning vs Columbus Blue Jackets
When: 7:00 PM ET, Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
The Tampa Bay Lightning are flexing their muscles as they head toward the playoffs.
Fresh off a visit to the White House, the two-time Stanley Cup champions will look to secure their 50th win in a season for the fourth time in franchise history when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. The teams will reconvene in Columbus on Thursday.
Tampa Bay knocked out Florida in a battle for Sunshine State supremacy on Sunday, ending the Panthers’ franchise-best 13-game winning streak with an 8-4 decision. The high-octane Lightning (49-22-8, 106 points) have scored 36 goals over their last six contests (5-1-0), including 22 during their three-game winning streak.
“We just went through a stretch where we lost a 1-0 game in Dallas (on April 12) and we barely scored (two games) before that,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “Everybody’s like, ‘Where’s the offense?’ Well, there it is. Now you’re seeing it.”
Nikita Kucherov collected two goals and three assists on Sunday. The 2018-19 Hart Trophy recipient has scored at least one goal in six straight games, totaling eight to go along with eight assists in that stretch.
Captain Steven Stamkos had two goals and two assists on Sunday, marking a franchise-best fourth consecutive contest in which he has recorded at least three points. His team-leading 97 points are one shy of his career high, set during the 2018-19 season.
Defenseman Victor Hedman notched four assists for the second time during his five-game point streak (one goal, 12 assists). The 2017-18 Norris Trophy recipient has posted career-high totals in goals (20), assists (61) and points (81) this season.
In addition to those two-time Stanley Cup champions, in-season acquisition Nick Paul has recorded six points (three goals, three assists) over his last five games.
“I’m just super excited and coming up to the playoffs, I’m just getting ready, throwing big hits, being hard, and just being the player that I need to be for this team to succeed,” Paul said.
The Lightning, who breezed to a 7-2 romp over Columbus on Jan. 4, sit five points behind second place Toronto in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay has three games remaining on its schedule while Toronto has two.
The Blue Jackets (36-36-7, 79 points), however, are playing out the string.
Oliver Bjorkstrand (one goal, two assists) and Jakub Voracek (three assists) each notched three-point performances on Sunday as Columbus snapped a four-game winless skid (0-3-1) with a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
“It feels good,” Bjorkstand said after scoring his first goal in 12 games. “I’ve been (in) a little bit of a slump. For myself when I have slumps, I try and keep my game a little bit simple, small little victories. That definitely helps your game get going. When you find a chance, you just need to find a way to bury it.”
Bjorkstrand’s 25 goals are one behind team leader Patrik Laine, who is sidelined with an upper-body injury.
Voracek leads the Blue Jackets in both assists (54) and points (59) this season.
Stats and Records
|1/4/22||TB 7||CLB 2||22||29||0-3||36||20||3-4|
|Tampa Bay||O. Palat||3|
|Tampa Bay||O. Palat||2|
|Tampa Bay||A. Cirelli||2|
|Tampa Bay||A. Vasilevskiy||20|
|Tampa Bay||S. Stamkos||101|
|Tampa Bay||S. Stamkos||39|
|Tampa Bay||S. Stamkos||62|
|Tampa Bay||A. Vasilevskiy||1704|