Tampa Bay Lightning Continue Hot Start Behind Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov
As we approach mid November, the Tampa Bay Lightning are in a three game tour of California. The Lightning beat the San Jose Sharks on 5-1 on November 8th, and will end the trip at Anaheim on November 12th. On November 8th, the Lightning played the Los Angeles Kings in a matchup of the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference leading Lightning (12-2-2, 26 points) against the Pacific Division leading Kings (10-3-2, 24 points).
Tampa Bay essentially put this one away in the first period, scoring four goals, within about two minutes of each other. L.A. scored once in each of the next two periods, and Tampa Bay added one more score in third on the way to a 5-2 victory. Steven Stamkos leads the NHL in points with 30 (eight goals and a league leading 22 assists) while Nikita Kucherov is second in points with 29, including a league leading 16 goals to go with 13 assists. They were both a part of the victory over the Kings; Kucherov had a goal and two assists, while Stamkos had one of each. A health Stamkos makes a big difference. Two years ago, Stamkos played in 77 games and had 64 points and Tampa Bay went to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to Chicago. Last year he played only 17 games and the Lightning missed the playoffs.
Backup goalie Peter Budaj, who played for the Kings last season until he was traded to Tampa Bay in February, picked up his first win of the season with 22 saves. Regular goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy got a day off; he leads the league in wins with 12 and is 12-1-1 overall.