With Bishop In Net, Lightning’s Swagger Returns
The Lightning won for the first time in 2017 defeating the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. The win ends the teams four game losing streak and the pick up their first victory in 2017. Ondrej Palat scored a pair of goals, Nikita Kucherov added a goal, Anton Stralman added an empty net goal. Ben Bishop returning after missing nine games made stopped 24-of-26 shots.
The win helps the Bolts avoid their first five-game losing skid since dropping five in a row going 0-3-2 from March 2-10, 2014. The victory improves the Lightning to 20-19-4 (44-points) on the season.
Bishop On His Return To Action:
“I felt like I never left, I felt good out there and guys played well in front of me. It’s a big win.”
“It was intense obviously, both teams were fighting for playoff points right now, they’ve been playing well and obviously we came out and played really good tonight. We got to just keep building on this and stay consistent.”
“It [practice and days off] nice to get your mind off the game there for a couple days. Obviously we played a lot of hockey. We had two good practices and it carried over to tonight and now we just have to carry over to tomorrow [against the Columbus Blue Jackets].”
- The Sabres opened the scoring ending a streak of two games in a row in which the Bolts had scored first. It marked the 27th time in the Lightning’s 43 games that the opposition scored first. The Bolts are 8-15-4 in those games.
- Ondrej Palat scored his eighth goal of the season on a Bolts 5-on-3 advantage to tie the game at 1-1.
- Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Johnson picked up assist on Palat’s goal. Drouin now has points in three straight games (goal, 3-assists) and six of his last seven (2-goals, 5-assists). He also has 20-points in his last 18 games.
- Palat gave the Bolts a 2-1 second period lead with his second goal of the game. In eight games since his return from injury he has registered seven points including five goals.
- It was his 50th regular season multi-point game and 57th of his career. It was his first multi-goal game of the season and first since March 5, 2016 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
- Nikita Kucherov scored his 17th goal of the season to push the Lightning lead to 3-1. It was his sixth time in his last eight games that he has recorded a point (4-goals, 6-assists)
- It was Kucherov’s 85th career goal putting him in sole possession of 10th place on the all-time Bolts goals list passing Rob Zamuner.
- Palat picked up an assist on Kucherov’s goal giving him three points on the night. It was his 10th career game (including playoffs) with three or more points. He was a point shy of his career high mark of four points set on December 31, 2014 against the Buffalo Sabres.
- Victor Hedman picked up an assist on Kucherov’s goal giving him 31 on the season. He leads all defenseman and ranks third in the NHL overall.
- Anton Stralman added an empty net goal near the end of regulation to give the Bolts the 4-2 win.
- After snapping a six game scoreless streak on Sunday in Pittsburgh, Valtteri Filppula added another assist on Stralman’s goal giving him 20 assist on the season.
Lightning Special Teams:
- Palat’s first goal and Stralman’s empty net goals were both power play goals.
- It was the 11th game this season that the Lightning scored a pair of power play goals, which according to Elias Sports Bureau, is the most in the NHL.
- The two goals give them a league leading 38 power play goal of the season.
- The Bolts have scored a power play goal in five of their last six games and 12 of their last 15 .
- The Bolts penalty kill held the Sabres scoreless in all four of their power play opportunities.
Lightning Injury Notes: Bishop Returns
Ben Bishop returned to the Bolts for the first time since suffering a lower body injury on December 20th against the Detroit Red Wings causing him to miss nine games. Bishop was expected to miss 3-4 weeks and Coach Jon Cooper had hoped he’d be back by the California portion of the schedule beginning on January 16th.
Bishop credited the Bolts training staff for his recovery and was happy that Andrei Vasilevskiy got a taste of extended play. “What I liked, he got nine games in a row. He got to get his feet wet of feeling what being a starting goaltender was like, and all you can do is build on that experience. So I think it was good for him.”
Other Lightning Injuries:
- Steven Stamkos (right lateral meniscus) is out four months (injured November 15th) missed his 26th game.
- Brayden Point (upper body injury) is out for 4-6 weeks missed his seventh game.
- J.T. Brown (upper body injury) missed his second straight game.
- Ryan Callahan (lower body injury) missed his second straight game.
The Lightning play 16 sets of back-to-back games this season, their most such series in a season since they also played 16 during the 2010-2011 season. Their most back-to-back games in a season was 19 during both the 1993-1994 and 1997-1998 seasons.
They are currently playing the second set of a stretch of three back-to-back sets in 11 days. The Bolts will play the second half of this, their eighth back-to-back series, against the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7:30 pm.
In first half of back-to-back series this season the Lightning are 4-3-0 and on the back half of the series they are just 1-3-3 on the year.
Prior to tomorrow nights game the Bolts will retire Marty St. Louis’ number 26. He’ll become the first player in franchised history to have his number retired.