Captain Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov look to continue their historic streaks as the Tampa Bay Lightning go after a fifth straight victory when the injury-plagued Anaheim Ducks pay a visit Saturday night. Kucherov leads the league with 12 goals while Stamkos boasts a league-best 21 points, and they are the seventh duo for one team in NHL history to start a season with 11-game point streaks - the first since 1992-93.
“I truly believe, whatever the sport is, you have to have some special players,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “It’s a team sport but you need those guys. … We’re fortunate to have a few of them and those are two that rise to the top.” The Lightning own the league’s best record (9-1-1) while earning a point in nine consecutive games and are 8-0-5 in the last 13 meetings with the Ducks, who are licking their wounds after an 8-3 loss at Florida on Thursday night. “It surprised our group because we’re coming off a real strong game in Philadelphia,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle told reporters after his team’s first win streak ended. “We just didn’t have anything tonight.” The Ducks are still 4-4-1 despite missing several key players to injury all season, including defenseman Sami Vatanen and center Ryan Kesler, and a power play that is 2-for-31.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Prime Ticket (Anaheim), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE DUCKS (4-4-1): Kevin Bieksa (hand) is expected to miss at least the rest of the trip, joining fellow defenseman Cam Fowler (knee) on the shelf, but Vatanen could return soon from offseason shoulder surgery. Forwards Logan Shaw and Kalle Kossila each notched their first goal of the season Thursday while Andrew Cogliano also scored to take over the team lead with seven points. Goalie John Gibson, who had permitted two or fewer goals in six straight games, allowed six in two periods Thursday but Cogliano told reporters, “Gibby was the one taking the brunt for our mistakes and our poor judgement and a lot of turnovers.”
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (9-1-1): Tampa Bay is off to its best start in franchise history at home (6-0-0) and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has won eight straight games while allowing seven goals in his past six outings. The Lightning lead the league on the power play (31.1 percent) with Kucherov and Stamkos contributing six goals and 11 assists with the man advantage, helping them tie Martin St. Louis (2009-10) for the franchise’s longest point streak to start the season. Rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev added an assist in Thursday’s 3-2 victory over Detroit and owns four goals to go along with four assists during a five-game point streak.
1. Anaheim F Corey Perry has not scored a goal since recording a pair on opening night.
2. Tampa Bay D Daniel Girardi, who leads the team with 24 blocked shots, is scheduled to play his 800th game Saturday.
3. Ducks D Josh Manson boasts four assists and leads the team with a plus-6 rating.
PREDICTION: Lightning 4, Ducks 2