The Tampa Bay Lightning are now r\tied with Florida and Toronto atop the Atlantic Division. Thursday night in Toronto, the Bolts took care of business beating the Maple Leafs 5-3 to improve to 4-0 on the current road trip.
With the win, the Lightning are now 17-5-4 and an impressive 8-1-1 without Point and Kucherov in the lineup.
This is always a homecoming for Steven Stamkos as he is from the Toronto area and he did not disappoint. Stamkos had a power play goal and added three assists in the Lightning win.
The Lightning played without four key players against the Leafs. Braydon Point and Nikita Kucherov were both out along with Anthony Cirelli, and Erik Cernak. Jon Cooper said that they are hoping to get Cirelli back for the game in Ottawa on Saturday.
Julien BriesBois continues to add depth to the team as the Bolts picked up Riley Nash off waivers from Winnipeg. Nash made his presence felt immediately as he won five of seven faceoffs against Toronto.
With Point and Cirelli, both out of the lineup, rookie Taylor Raddysh is taking advantage of his opportunity. Raddysh has three goals and four assists in 25 games this season. Raddysh scored his third goal of the season in the win against the Maple Leafs.
According to Steven Stamkos, it’s all about the depth as that has been one of many factors helping this Lightning team without their top scorers sidelined.
“It just goes to show the depth that we do have. A lot of people kind of questioned that after we lost some players, but I think if you look at the guys that have stepped up into the lineup from the veteran guys like Belly and Pairs and then you’ve got Katchouk and Raddy, Colton, all the guys that have really stepped up, it’s fun when you can have that depth and still go out there and win. Obviously, it helps when you have the best goalie in the world and that’s kind of where it starts. It gives us a chance to win and maybe win some games that we’re not supposed to. But we’re happy he’s on our side and we’ll take it.”
Coach Jon Cooper reached yet another milestone in his coaching career. In his 10th season with the Bolts, Cooper notched his 400th career win in his 659th game. The fastest that any NHL coach has ever gotten 400 wins. Bruce Boudreau previously held that record with 400 wins in 663 games.
In typical Jon Cooper fashion, he relished the moment momentarily, but gave all the credit to the players and the front office. “Honestly, I found that out on the bench today at the end of the game,” Cooper said of getting his 400th win. “Perry and Maroon were kind of ribbing me. So, I haven’t had a ton of time to digest that other than the fact that I think I’m really proud to have done it with one team. But you don’t do that without an owner coupled with two general managers that are committed to all having the same goal, all being on the same page and we’re kind of all bonded together. I have to thank Jeff, Steve, and Julien, Fabulous assistant coaches that make somebody like me look good in a situation like this. And then a whole hell of a bunch of hockey players, because in the end they’re the guys that get you the wins. A lot of people to thank for that. Hopefully we’re not stopping here.”
“Pretty humbling moment to be honest but pretty cool.”
With the win, Cooper now has a career .650 win percentage which is second to the Hall Of Fame Coach Scotty Bowman.
In ten years, Copper has two Stanley Cups on his resume, and five conference finals appearances. Sounds like a Hall of Fame resume to me.
The Lightning will play in Ottawa on Saturday to wrap up the five game road trip, then return home next week for a brief two game home stand against the LA Kings and the Ottawa Senators.