Although the Tampa Bay Lightning played 344 consecutive games with NHL superstar Steven Stamkos in the lineup, the first two games without him have gone much better than expected. Coming off a road shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night, the Lightning returned home to face off against the Western Conference leading Anaheim Ducks. Tampa Bay never looked back after jumping out to an early lead and once again took advantage of stellar goal-tending from Ben Bishop to win this “Battle of NHL’s Best” 5-1 over the Ducks. For the Lightning, the game was just one of many “statement” wins this early season, and with the win they improved to a perfect 7-0 against the Western Conference.
As the team now embarks on a four game, west coast trip both determination and resiliency will truly be tested as the Lightning face teams with a combined record of 28-4-3 on home ice. Offensively, the Lightning must receive extra contributions from both its veterans Martin St. Louis and Valtteri Filppula in the absence of Stamkos. As present in Thursday night’s victory over Anaheim, the Lightning will need an entire team effort in order to top the elite Western Conference teams. Tampa Bay will rely heavily on both the power play and exceptional goaltending from Bishop to carry them. Bishop, who leads the league in goaltender wins, will most likely carry the load for the Lightning.
Even without its superstar scorer, the Lightning believe in both the young talent and reliable goaltending that has led them to the top of the Atlantic Division. A true test lies ahead for the Lightning as it looks to carry momentum over into the toughest stretch of games yet. No Stamkos? No Problem!