The Lightning flew home from Ottawa on Saturday night having completed an eight-city, eight-game tour by going 5-2-1 and collecting 11 of a possible 16 points.

Amid Injuries, The Lightning Continue To Pick Up Points

TAMPA, FL. – The Lightning flew home from Ottawa on Saturday night having completed an eight-city, eight-game tour by going 5-2-1 and collecting 11 of a possible 16 points.

The stretch, which included a game at home before getting back on a plane, concluded with a five-game road swing. The Lightning won the first four before being blanked by the Senators, 4-0. It was the first time this season the Lightning were shut out.

Concluding the trip by being kept off the board by a goaltender (Anton Forsberg, first career shutout) who has spent the bulk of his 10-year professional career in the minors may not have been ideal.

However, to win in Boston and Philly on consecutive days to open the trip, followed by pulling out a last-minute win in Montreal and then winning in Toronto, made for a very successful trip before the team landed in the Canadian capital.

“When you get on these road trips, whether it’s three, four or five games, you have to take more points than games played, and we did that,” said coach Jon Cooper, who picked up his 400th career win in Toronto, following the loss to Ottawa. “If we lose the first game and win the next four, we probably have a way better feeling than we do right now. But if we’re looking big picture, eight out of 10 (points), that’s a pretty good trip.”

The Lightning flew home from Ottawa on Saturday night having completed an eight-city, eight-game tour by going 5-2-1 and collecting 11 of a possible 16 points.
Steven Stamkos, Credit: Tampa Bay Lightning

It is also pretty good when considering injury-related roster shuffling that has taken place. Defenseman Erik Cernak has been in and out of the lineup and will be absent for the next couple of weeks. Fellow blueliner Zach Bogosian sustained a lower-body injury in Toronto and was not available for the match in Ottawa.

Center Anthony Cirelli missed games against the Maple Leafs and Sens with an upper-body injury. This is on top of injuries to Nikita Kucherov, sustained during the season’s opening week, and Brayden Point, who last played a few days before Thanksgiving. Their injuries will likely keep them out of the lineup for at least another few weeks.

Rookies such as forward Taylor Raddysh, Alex Barre-Boulet, and Gabriel Fortier, and defenseman Fredrik Claesson have filled in admirably. Raddysh, in particular, has played very well of late.

“We’ve dealt with (injuries) pretty much since game one or two of the season and every team deals with it,” said Ryan McDonagh, who is averaging a team-high 22:39 per game and leads the Lightning with 49 blocked shots. “We might be playing with different guys here and there throughout the year. We trust anybody that puts on the jersey and is in the lineup (any given) night. Obviously, you want to be healthy and get guys back as soon as possible. You have to grind through it as a group and stick to your foundation”

The Lightning, who have 38 points and are third in the Atlantic Division two points behind Florida and Toronto, will host the Kings on Tuesday night and Ottawa on Thursday evening. It will mark their first back-to-back games at Amalie Arena since Thanksgiving week. They will then embark on a three-game western swing (Colorado, Vegas, Arizona) before the league pauses for three days over Christmas.

So far this season the Lightning, who had only two power play goals on the five-game trip and are converting 18.5 percent of such opportunities to rank 19th in the league, have had to rely on many players to help pile up the wins and points. The hope is that the injured players will be back shortly after the calendar flips to 2022, though they will continue to plug away no matter who is called on to get the job done.

“Obviously, you want to be healthy and get guys back as soon as possible,” said McDonagh. “The guys in the lineup (Saturday) were trying to contribute and play to our strengths and find ways to win games with an injured group. It is going to be like that the rest of the season. You have to grind through it as a group and stick to your foundation.”

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