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Lightning capture eighth straight win against Ottawa

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It wasn’t that long ago. It just seems like forever.

It was Feb. 17, and the Lightning was in trouble. The team had lost four of five, and they seemed to be teetering. They were tied for eighth in the NHL Standings, and with more road games left than home games, things didn’t look too promising.

Since then have come a franchise-tying hot streak of eight straight games, including four in a row on the road. The Lightning has won 22 games since Dec. 22.

“When you play 82 games, are there some times that everyone needs to look in the mirror? Sure there are,” said coach Jon Cooper. “Was that one of the times? Sure it was. Since Christmas time, these guys have dug their heels. When you can go on a streak like this time of you, you put a lot of pressure on a lot of teams.”

The game was tighter than it sounds. Tampa Bay led only 2-1 on goals by Cedric Paquette and Ondrej Palat until the game’s final two minutes. Nikita Kucherov scored a goal with 1:14 to play and Steven Stamkos scored an empty-netter.

Goaltender Ben Bishop, who leads the league in goals against average, stopped 31 of 32 shots.

The Lightning returns home Saturday night to play the Carolina Hurricanes.

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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