After Thursday night’s massive win by the Tampa Bay Lightning, they could make history Saturday evening with a 12th consecutive home win when they face the Los Angeles Kings in their final game before the All-Star break.
Tampa Bay tied the franchise mark of 11 straight victories set during the 2019-20 season from Dec. 23 to Feb. 15 in a tough 3-2 win over the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins, who own the NHL’s best record by 10 points over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The win pushed the Lightning to 19-4-1 on their sheet of ice, and they improved to 19-0-0 when they were leading after one period.
In dealing Boston only its sixth regulation loss in 48 games, Tampa Bay beat the Bruins for the first time in three matchups and handed them just their second loss when tied going into the third period (9-2-0).
Following wins over Boston and the Minnesota Wild to start the three-game homestand, Cooper said his team is meeting the task at hand.
“This totally is a big test for us, and these are all playoff-caliber teams,” said Cooper, whose group has 89 wins since the 2019-2020 campaign, tops in the league. “They’re big, heavy, skilled, so yeah, it’s a test. So far we’re doing pretty darn well on the test.
“I don’t want to say this because we’ve won both the games, but for the most part, (it’s about) how we’ve played. It hasn’t been a fire drill or anything like that. We’ve played some pretty sound, structured hockey, and we’re getting contributions from all four lines, all six D and the goalie’s playing well. … We’re getting rewarded for it.”
Steven Stamkos’ assist Thursday gave the captain a second 10-game point streak this season. The Tampa Bay captain became just the second player to do so, joining Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid (three times).
Los Angeles defeated the reigning Eastern Conference champions 4-2 at home on Oct. 25 – the Kings’ only win in an 11-game stretch (1-7-3) that goes back six years.
The Kings’ stop in Sunrise, Fla., Friday night was the fourth contest in a season-long six-game road trip. They won a third straight one-goal game, hanging on to beat the Florida Panthers 4-3. That victory left the Kings 3-1-0 on the trip with stops in Tampa and Carolina on Tuesday left before the All-Star break.
Entering the match with just two short-handed goals, Los Angeles received one each from Adrian Kempe and Viktor Arvidsson to take a 3-0 lead. Anze Kopitar and Matt Roy also snapped the net.
On the penalty kill, Los Angeles killed all five Panthers power plays.
“I think our penalty kill has done an exceptional job lately,” said Kings coach Todd McLellan, whose club entered the game 25th on the penalty kill. “It starts with the goaltenders … but it had to work a little too much tonight.”
Kempe’s goal was his 20th, marking his second straight season hitting the plateau. The last time the Kings scored two short-handed goals in a game was Nov. 3, 2018, when Kopitar and Dustin Brown achieved the feat.
Goalie Pheonix Copley improved to 15-3-0 by making a career-high 45 saves. In his 50th NHL appearance, the North Pole, Alaska, native bumped his career mark to 31-12-3.
–Field Level Media