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Lightning’s offense clicking again in big win over Pittsburgh

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Anton Stralman scored twice.

Ondrej Palat scored twice.

Tyler Johnson? Well, he almost scored twice.

The Tampa Bay Lightning won its 10th game in its last 11 Friday night, burying the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 at Amalie Arena. It was the eighth game in a row the Bolts have won at home, and it left the team in second place in the Atlantic Division, five points behind the Panthers.

One of the nicest parts of the streak for the Lightning has been the suddenly invigorated Johnson, a dazzling performer a year ago who sizzled in the post-season. But a wrist injury has limited Johnson until lately.

Johnson scored one goal Friday night and another tick off of teammate Alex Killorn on its way to the net. Officially, Johnson had a goal and two assists. Defenseman Stralman had two goals, including an empty netter. Palat scored a goal and then added one while Tampa Bay was shorthanded.

“I think Pittsburgh stretched the game out a little bit,” Johnson said. “They try and go for those longer passes and more chips whereas Detroit is a little more closer support, kind of slowing the game down a little bit. I think that’s what is great about our team, we can play any kind of style. You know we have the skill and the guys able to do that, and our system works for it.”

Goaltender Ben Bishop stopped 27 of 30 shots for the win.

The Lightning has averaged 3.5 goals per game in its eight-game streak, meaning the offense is coming to life at the right time.

“I think that’s what we stress every year to be a good defensive team,” Killorn said. “It’s one of those things that we kind of just think the offense is going to come, and it has the past two years. I think this year was a little bit different. We weren’t scoring at the beginning, but we were there defensively. We had to find ways to score, and it’s nice to kind of find it at this point of the season.”

Tampa Bay travels to Ottawa Monday and Montreal Tuesday.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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