While stuck in their worst losing streak in 10 seasons, the Tampa Bay Lightning turned to an old friend Tuesday night to start winning again — their elite power play.
After scoring three times on the man advantage and breaking a five-game losing streak by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2, the Lightning will play the second of a four-game homestand Thursday when they host the Vegas Golden Knights.
Behind three-point outings by Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn, the Eastern Conference champions stopped their losing slide, which equaled the mark set in the 2013-14 campaign.
Kucherov netted twice on the power play and set up Killorn for another. The left winger also scored at even strength and handed out an assist, matching Kucherov’s output.
The club’s power play, which grids second overall at 26.2 percent (59 of 225), came to the rescue when Tampa Bay trailed on Morgan Frost’s marker off a neutral-zone turnover.
“The big thing for me was when we fell behind 1-0, we came back, and the power play was on tonight,” said coach Jon Cooper. “The rebound after going down 1-0 was big for me. The boys took it home after that.”
Without defenseman Victor Hedman, who is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, newcomers Tanner Jeannot (assist, three hits) and Michael Eyssimont (three hits, two takeaways) stepped up and played their best games with the Lightning.
“I feel great for them because it was their first win with us,” Cooper said. “Tanner creates a lot of space out there for his linemates, and I thought Mikey was all over the ice tonight in a positive way.”
In the first match of its five-game road swing Tuesday night in South Florida, Vegas failed to muster much offense, though it did score on the man advantage once, and lost 2-1 to the Florida Panthers.
Despite being outplayed in scoring chances and outshot 41-32, Vegas was in it until the final buzzer thanks to the standout effort of goaltender Adin Hill.
The 6-foot-4 Hill stood tall and affected numerous Florida shots, especially in the first two periods as the Panthers worked a strong cycle.
He was beaten by a high shot from Ryan Lomberg in the first period and by Aleksander Barkov in the second on an attempt that deflected off the stick of defenseman Nicolas Hague.
Hill (16-7-1) stopped 39 of 41 shots, had his two-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the second time in his past eight decisions.
The Comox, British Columbia, netminder set a franchise record with 47 saves in his previous start Friday against the New Jersey Devils.
Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said his team couldn’t keep up with the Panthers’ pace from the start.
“We chased the game the whole night and never caught up to them,” said Cassidy, whose squad lost for the first time in four games. “…But you got to be ready when the puck drops. And they were; we weren’t.”
Added Knights defenseman Shea Theodore of the upcoming match: “We’ve had stretches where we’ve bounced back really quick.”
Vegas is 6-3-0 all-time against the Lightning and won 5-4 on Feb. 18.
–Field Level Media