The lightning are peaking at the right time. Or is just a bit to early for this team to be peaking?
What the lightning have done the last two months is nothing short of incredible as the Bolts are on a 19-2-1 run and have moved to within one point of the Atlantic Division leading Boston Bruins.
The last two games on the road against two teams Columbus and Pittsburgh who are scratching and clawing for playoff positioning just like the Lightning have been two of the best games the Lightning have played all season.
This is the time of year when the injuries start coming into play, the physicality of the games increase, and their is a lot less room on the ice to maneuver.
Steven Stamkos missed the game against The Blue Jackets on Monday with a lower body injury along with defensemen Ryan McDonaugh.
Curtis McElhinney started in goal for the Lightning and he was outstanding as Nikita Kucherov scored the only two goals of the game one in the first period to put the Lightning up 1-0, and then Kucherov notched his 27th of the season in OT to give the Lightning the 2-1 win on Monday night.
Tuesday nights win in Pittsburgh was more impressive as the Lightning lost both Nikita Kucherov and Anthony Cirelli to lower body injury injuries while also missing Stamkos and McDonaugh.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 35 of 36 Penguin shots. Vasilevskiy was also named the third star of the week as he went 3-0 this past week with a 1.67 goals against average.
Yanni Gourde broke his 35 game scoring slump and put his seventh goal of the season past Penguins goalie Matt Murray at 2:45 of overtime as the Lightning won the second of back to backs 2-1 in overtime.
Jon Cooper called this one of the guttiest wins he has seen.
“This is a tough league to win in, especially against a team as talented as that (the Penguins).That was one of the guttier ones I’ve seen. That was a total team effort tonight.“
Yanni Gourde was excited to finally get that weight of his shoulder as he scored his first goal since November 25th. “You think about it every single day, (not scoring in 35 games). After that, you start focusing on different things you can do to help the team win. I know I’m better than just scoring goals. I think I can be effective and relevant to this team even when I’m not scoring. It was a long stretch. It’s not always easy, but I’m glad I scored that goal, finally.”
The lightning are now 37-15-5 on the season with games coming up at home against Edmonton and Philadelphia.
The lightning are playing their best hockey of the season right now. But as we have seen so often in the past, it’s the wins in April and May that will count the most.
The lightning recalled forward Alexander Volkov from Syracuse. That would seem to indicate that Kucherov and Cirelli will be out against the Oilers on Thursday night.
Cooper is hoping that Stamkos will be ready to play on Thursday, but may not know officially until the morning skate.