Friday, January 19, 2018
  • Lightning Strikes
  • Joe Smith

Lightning faces Flames in last game before bye week

The Lightning plays the visiting Flames tonight in its last game before its five-day bye week.

The Lightning (31-9-3) heads into the break tops in the NHL in points (65 heading into tonight's game) and wins (31).

"Sure, they're looking forward to the break, but I haven't heard that mentioned once in the last few days," coach Jon Cooper said after the morning skate. "We talked the last day of the road trip (Sunday) in Detroit (the second game of a back-to-back). 'OK, we got three left. One on the road and two at home. Who's tired here? Are you guys tired?' And it was 'No.' We got three more before this break. We ticked one off. We've ticked two off. Now let's get the third one. pretty sure that's what our focus is regarding who we're playing."

The Flames (22-16-4) arrived in town on a four-game winning streak, which included Tuesday's 3-2 win at Minnesota that started their four-game road trip.

What's more, Calgary has played better on the road, where it is 10-5-4 with points in 14 of its 19 games. The Flames are 12-11 at home.

The Flames top line of Johnny Gaudreau (eight assists), Sean Monahan (three goals, four assists) and Michael Ferland (three goals, three assists) have combined for 21 points during the season-long four-game winning streak.

Gaudreau will be back at Amalie Arena at the end of the month as the Flames lone representative in the All-Star Game. It will be his fourth all-star game appearance.

The Lightning, of course, have the all-star quartet of C Steven Stamkos, RW Nikita Kucherov, D Victor Hedman and G Andrei Vasilevskiy. Cooper will coach the Atlantic Division team.

Kucherov (27 goals, 33 assists, 60 points) is the first player in the NHL to 60 points this season. He is the second fastest to 60 points in franchise history, needing only 43 games. Vinny Lecavalier needed 41 games to reach 60 points in 2007-08.

Kucherov leads the league in goals and points.

Brayden Point's three assists in Tuesday's 5-4 win against Carolina gives him a career-high 23 for the season.

D Dan Girardi (neck) is expected to miss his second game. He skated again this morning but the team will wait until after the bye week before letting him play in a game.

Stamkos will spend the first day of his bye week Friday in Sarnia, Ont., where he will have his jersey retired by his junior team.

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