The Lightning will attempt to conclude their three-game road trip on a winning note at Winnipeg on Friday evening after having a four-game win streak halted Wednesday night in Minnesota.
A 5-1 loss to the Wild was, to some degree, a byproduct of bad luck that included not getting into Minneapolis until the wee hours following a 4-1 win in Chicago on Tuesday night. Then, it was learned before taking the ice against the Wild that Andrei Vasilevskiy would not be available due to what the team indicated was illness.
Brian Elliott, who stopped 25 shots in defeating the Blackhawks, suddenly found himself making starts on back-to-back nights for the first time since he was with Philadelphia a little more than five years ago. Ironically, the second of those games was at Amalie Arena. Elliott was between the pipes for a Flyers’ loss at Florida on December 28, 2017, before defeating the Lightning the following evening.
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“That’s why he has probably been in the league for so long because he is able to handle stuff like that,” said coach Jon Cooper, when asked about the 37-year-old Elliott answering the bell on short notice. “He is a true pro and did everything for us tonight.”
The Lightning faced a rested Wild squad – they last played on New Year’s Eve — and some exceptional goaltending from Filip Gustavsson, who allowed only one of 35 shots to get behind him. So, Tampa Bay left Minneapolis with a 10-game (0-8-2) losing streak in Xcel Energy Center.
Here are a few items of interest heading into the game against Winnipeg:
*Steven Stamkos needs two goals for 500 in his career. The captain has one goal in his last nine games after scoring three in a four-game stretch. Nobody will complain, though, if he does not reach the milestone until next week when the Lightning hosts Columbus (Tuesday) and Vancouver (Thursday).
*The top line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Brandon Hagel remains hot. Point scored the Lightning’s lone goal Wednesday night and has 10 goals in his last 13 games. He has a six-game point streak in which he is 6-2-8. Kucherov assisted on Point’s goal to give him 41 helpers, good for second in the NHL. He has points in 12 of his last 14 games (3-16-19).
*The Lightning are 13-9-4, including 6-5-2 on the road, against Winnipeg since the franchise moved from Atlanta in 2011. This season, the Bolts are 9-8-0 on the road.