The Tampa Bay Lightning made a strong response to their first bit of adversity of the season with six straight wins and hope to extend that streak when they visit the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. Tampa Bay went 1-3-0 on its previous road trip before sweeping a four-game homestand, including a win over Colorado, and has won two in a row to start the current trek.
The Lightning registered a season-high 48 shots in Thursday’s 4-1 victory at Arizona and matched the third-longest winning streak in franchise history as captain Steven Stamkos told reporters, “We’re feeling good about ourselves right now.” Tampa Bay won in its last two trips to Colorado and defeated the Avalanche 5-2 on Dec. 7 at home with one goal from 21-year-old center Brayden Point, who has scored in five consecutive games and is slated to play his 100th in the NHL on Saturday. Colorado has won three of four contests since that setback, including a one-goal win at two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh and a 2-1 triumph against Florida on Thursday to open a three-game homestand. Center Nathan MacKinnon scored both goals last time out and leads the Avalanche with 35 points, logging at least 21 minutes of ice time for six straight contests.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), Altitude (Colorado)
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (23-6-2): Point has recorded two points in three consecutive games to become the third player on the team to reach 30, and the 166-pounder had his first career fight in Thursday’s victory. “Going into the game if someone was getting the Gordie Howe hat trick I wasn’t going to pick Brayden Point as the guy,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “But you can’t take the fight out of competitors and that’s what he is.” Right wing Nikita Kucherov has scored in three straight games and leads the league with 44 points while sharing the top spot in goals (22).
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (15-14-2): Coach Jared Bednar has been going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen a lot lately, giving MacKinnon more shifts as the former No. 1 overall pick boasts five goals in the last six contests. “He doubled up almost the whole game and made the most of his ice time, for sure,” Bednar told reporters after MacKinnon played 22:03 on Thursday - his fourth most of the season. Colorado has struggled with the man advantage while going 0-for-17 over the last five contests, but killed off all 10 power plays in the last four games - 21-of-22 in the past seven.
1. Colorado captain LW Gabriel Landeskog has been held off the scoresheet in three straight games and remains two points from 300 in his career.
2. Tampa Bay RW Ryan Callahan (six points, 29 games) suffered an upper-body injury Thursday and is out indefinitely.
3. Avalanche D Samuel Girard had two points in his first three games after being acquired, but none in his last 14 outings.
PREDICTION: Lightning 5, Avalanche 3