The Lightning has put together a winning formula that has them rising in the Atlantic division.
The formula is pretty simple. Play solid defense, don’t allow second chances in front of your net, and keep the puck out of your zone as much as possible.
This is the formula that the Lightning has used to get to three Stanley Cups in a row, winning two back-to-back Cups in 2021 and 2022.
Saturday Night in Montreal, the Lightning allowed the Canadiens just nine shots on goal over the final two periods.
When the Lightning gets the lead, it can be difficult for the opposition to get any room on the ice to set up offensively.
That smothering shutdown defense once the Lightning has the lead has been one of the keys to success the past three seasons.
Jon Cooper talked about the successful formula working so well for the Bolts. “We’re playing well in the right areas of the ice,” said Cooper. “There’s no question.
“We’ve improved in that area, and wins have followed. First, we were giving up three or more goals a game and having to score our way to wins. Now, we’re kind of defending our way to wins. Now, it’s two or less we’re giving up.
“When you do that, you’ve got a much better chance of winning games, so wins are following us because of that.”
The PK has also improved over the last month. The Lightning is now sixth in the league at 81 percent on the PK.
The Lightning signed defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to an eight-year, 8.5 million dollar contract this summer to ensure he would be in Tampa long term.
The big question mark was whether Sergachev was ready to take that next step to be a number or two defensemen. The answer is yes. Sergachev has raised his game to the level we all expected to see from the young Russian defensemen.
What has been surprising is the offensive numbers that Sergachev has put together. He is second on the team with 22 assists and fourth in overall scoring with 27 points.
The Lightning had a rough start to the season on the blue line after trading Ryan McDonagh to Nashville, Jan Rutta to Pittsburgh, and Zach Bogosian missing the first 21 games of the season recuperating from off-season surgery.
Nick Perbix has stepped in and has done an excellent job and is getting better every game.
The Lightning will be tested tonight as they will match up against Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs, their playoff nemesis from last season, with a five-game winning streak on the line.
These two teams have already played once this season in Tampa, with the Lightning winning on an overtime goal by Alex Killorn.
The Bolts are chasing the Leafs in the division. They trail the Leafs by three points. A win tonight, and there is one point separating the two teams.
This time of year is when this Lightning team gets on a roll and starts racking up the points. Last season the Lightning went 14-3-1 in December and early January. This year the Lightning have won eleven of their last 14 and looking to get some points against division opponents on the current road trip.
Mikhail Sergachev will play tonight against Toronto after a two-game absence.
After the Toronto game tonight, The Bolts head for Detroit for a Wednesday night matchup before wrapping up the road trip Friday night in Buffalo.
Nikita Kucherov is the NHL’s player of the week after dishing after seven assists in wins against Seattle, Columbus, and Montreal.
Kucherov leads the league with 35 assists and is fourth in scoring with 47 points.