Welcome to this edition of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stock Up and Stock Down, a weekly column detailing the highs and lows of the team’s performance.
The Tampa Bay Lightning enjoyed some home cooking this week, going 2-0-1 to raise their season record to 7-4-1. It was difficult, as they had to come from behind in the third period to win against the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres. In fact, they have had to do that in three of their last six victories. It’s not something they want to do consistently, but it’s nice to know they have what it takes to come back late in games.
After a slow start, the Lightning have started to string together some wins. The victory over the Sabres was their sixth in the past eight games and extended their point streak to five games. As mentioned earlier, much of what they have done to win these games has come in the third period. In addition to their win against the Sabres, other third-period comeback victories have included wins against the Florida Panthers, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, and last Tuesday’s against the Senators.
Stock Up: Nick Perbix
Quickly becoming a fan favorite, the rookie scored his first NHL goal on Saturday night (Nov. 5) and it ended up being the game-winner. The Minnesota native seems to found a home on the second blue line pairing with Mikhail Sergachev and has caught the eye of head coach Jon Cooper. “He’s a really intelligent player and human. He makes really smart outlet passes, and now it’s just getting to the point of doing it under more and more pressure because of the speed of the game. But you can see he’s improving with each game.”
Stock Up: “Questionable” Players
If there was any doubt as to the toughness of the Lightning, look no further than Victor Hedman and Nick Paul. Both players had been listed as “questionable” before games, as Hedman had missed the two previous games due to an upper-body injury, while Paul had that designation after leaving the Carolina game due to an undisclosed injury.
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Not only did Hedman and Paul participate, but they both got on the score sheet. Paul scored a goal, extending his point streak to a career-long five games. Hedman had the assist on the goal and has now recorded a point in eight of his last nine games played.
Stock Down: Giving Up Shorthanded Goals
With all of the success the Lightning had last week, they did have some hiccups as they gave up two really awful and inexcusable shorthanded goals. In Tuesday’s game (Nov. 1) against the Senators, a case of trying to be too exact with passes led to former Lightning Mathieu Joseph scoring a goal while the Lightning were two men up on the power play. On Thursday night (Nov. 3), poor puck handling led to an odd-man rush for the Carolina Hurricanes that ended up with a Brady Skjei game-tying goal. This is the team’s third shorthanded goal allowed this season, with the first coming on opening night against the New York Rangers.
Stock Up: Goaltending
Andrei Vasilevskiy has been good, as expected, but so has his backup, Brian Elliott. The 39-year-old veteran made 21 saves against the Sabres following Vasilevskiy’s 52-save, six-round shootout loss to the Hurricanes on Thursday. Elliott came up big with just over five minutes in regulation when he slammed the door on Jeff Skinner, who snuck behind the Lightning defense and got a breakaway opportunity.
“Moose” has won three of his four starts this season, while Vasilevskiy is 4-3-1 with a .911 save percentage and 2.87 goals against average. These are not typical “Big Cat” numbers, but he has started to regain his previous form in the past couple of weeks.
Stock Down: Too Many Shots Allowed
On Thursday night, the Lightning allowed the Hurricanes to get 55 shots on goal, highlighting an issue that has been prevalent throughout the season. The issues leading to many shots have included taking too many penalties, the inability to clear the puck out of their own end, and turnovers. There are only so many things world-class goaltending can do to bail you out until, eventually, shots reach the back of the net.
Stock Up: Continued Play of the Top Line
Brandon Hagel, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov have continued to shine as a unit. On Saturday night, the trio combined for nine points, 14 of the Lightning’s 30 shots on goal, and took charge in leading their three-goal third period. Kucherov had the primary assist on the tying and go-ahead goals and scored an empty-netter in the final minute, extending his goal streak to six games and his point streak to 10. One could make the argument that, at the moment, this could be the best line in the NHL.
Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the Edmonton Oilers come to town on Tuesday, concluding the Lightning’s four-game homestand. On Friday, they travel to Washington to face Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals before returning home on Sunday to face them again. Three very difficult contests as the Lightning look to continue their strong play of late as they earned five out of six possible points during their most recent homestand.