Lightning host Flyers, look to extend hot streak

By The Sports Xchange
Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI
Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo

TAMPA, Fla. -- NHL-leading Tampa Bay looks to pick up where it left off before the holiday break when the Lightning host the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

Tampa Bay is riding a 12-game streak with at least a point, posting an 11-0-1 record, the third longest stretch of games without a regulation loss in franchise history. The Lightning have not dropped a game since a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 27.


But don't expect a team with the type of Stanley Cup aspirations the Lightning have to start looking too far down the road, even after capping an impressive 3-0-1 road trip through western Canada in the previous four games before the team had four days off over Christmas.

"I think we can go into the break feeling good about how we played this start of the season," defenseman Anton Stralman said after Saturday's victory in Edmonton. "But we're only halfway. It's nice to get the break.


"It's been a tough schedule. A lot of the boys need a little rest and to heal up a little bit. I think it's going to be great to get some time off and be ready to go again on the 27th."

Captain Steven Stamkos is leading the way offensively with 13 goals in the past 12 games and has reached 20 goals for the 10th time in his career. Nikita Kucherov jumped to second in league scoring with 57 points.

But it's the other end of the ice the Lightning are looking to shore up as they eye the second half of the schedule. Tampa Bay enters Thursday sitting 13th in the league in goals allowed at 2.86 per game.

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"We were probably outscoring teams and we needed to get back to what was actually getting us here and why we've had such a good start," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

The Flyers also hope the break didn't take away some of the momentum gained before the break as Philadelphia has won three of the past four games since new interim coach Scott Gordon took the reins behind the bench from Dave Hakstol.


In the four games under Gordon, the Flyers have allowed just nine goals, well below the season average of 3.6 goals allowed per game.

"It was a tough week for everybody," Gordon told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Not just physically, but mentally.

"And to come in, new coach, new goaltender, the whole routine was thrown out of whack -- whether it was the pregame skate or anything we touched on system-wise, or different drills at practice. And yet they responded with six points out of eight and were very close to having eight for eight. That obviously is encouraging as a coach to get that kind of attitude and that kind of effort."

The change, along with the call-up of top goaltender prospect Carter Hart -- who won two of his three starts -- has allowed the Flyers hit the reset button in many aspects.

"I think a lot of guys got their confidence back and we're rolling now, so it feels good,"' second-year center Nolan Patrick told The Inquirer. "The last couple games, we've really played a team game and we've played fast."

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