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.