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Crashing The Net: Bolts Face Opportunistic Weekend

The Tampa Bay Lightning (25-24-7) return fresh off a much needed bye week to face the Dallas Stars (22-27-10) and Colorado Avalanche (16-38-2) as they continue their pursuit to playoff contention. The Bolts have been improving their game before the break securing a point in four straight contests as they steadily begin to climb rank in the Atlantic Division. This week offers them a back-to-back opportunity against two other teams that have struggled this season. Can the Lightning keep rolling and capitalize? Let’s take a look at the week ahead with Crashing The Net!

Last Week:

Los Angeles Kings (28-24-4)
When: Tuesday, February 7th – 7:30PM
Result: Win
Score: 5-0
Shots: 28-21 LAK
Power Play: 0/2
Penalty Kill: 2/2
Key Moment: Behind a stellar performance from Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop, the Lightning beamed confidence in the second period which saw forward Nikita Kucherov score two goals and pad their lead to 4-0 heading into the third period. Tampa Bay would go onto win the game 5-0 and Bishop secured his first shutout of the season.

Minnesota Wild (38-13-6)
When: Friday, February 10th – 8:00PM
Result: SO Loss
Score: 2-1
Shots: 38-27 MIN
Power Play: 0/2
Penalty Kill: 2/3
Key Moment: The big moment here was the shootout goal from Wild forward Mikko Koivu which closed out a goaltending duel between Andrei Vasilevskiy and Devan Dubnyk. There were so many highlight moments for Vasilevskiy in this game, but what turned the tide was the lone goal at the end.

Winnipeg Jets (27-29-5)
When: Saturday, February 11th – 7:00PM
Result: Win
Score: 4-1
Shots: 33-30 WPG
Power Play: 0/2
Penalty Kill: 3/3
Key Moment: Ondrej Palat gave the Lightning a three goal lead early in the second and it would prove to be enough as Tampa Bay held on to win it behind another great outing by Ben Bishop.

Lightning Statistics From Last Week:

Games Played: 3
Wins: 2
Losses: 1 (in SO)
Points: 5 out of 6 Points
Goals For: 10
Goals Allowed: 3
Power Play: 0/6 = 0.00%
Penalty Kill: 7/8 = 87.5%

Upcoming Games:

Dallas Stars (22-27-10)
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas
When: Saturday, February 18th – 8:00PM
Where to Watch: SunS, FSSW

To start off the weekend back-to-back, Tampa Bay faces the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. This will be the first of two matchups between these clubs in a season that has seen gloom for both parties. Dallas’ miscues have been center stage of late and has formulated to a 1-7 record for the month of February. Lackluster goaltending, high penalty minutes, and a bottom penalty kill have ransacked the Stars’ opportunities leaving them scratching their heads at what was once considered a promising season.

Where there has been bad, there has also been good in the form of forwards Jamie Benn (19G, 34A) and Tyler Seguin (21G, 35A) who have accounted for 31.1% of the Stars scoring this season. The Lightning need to come out swinging here as they should every game for the rest of this season. For them to be successful they’ll need to attack that sluggish Dallas penalty kill and manage the Stars’ speed, which normally doesn’t stay bottled for long.

Colorado Avalanche (16-38-2)
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver
When: Sunday, February 19th – 8:00PM
Where to Watch: SunS, ALT

On the tail end of this weekend, the Lightning are hosted by the Avalanche. Colorado comes into this tilt as currently the worst team in the NHL with 34 points on the season. Even with this knowledge, the Lightning should not underestimate this foe. Instead they need to strike hard at their opponent’s weaknesses. The Avalanche are bottom of the barrel in goals, assists, and power play. They also have been giving up an average of 3.32 goals a game. To be successful here, Tampa Bay will need to do so with their recent strength in scoring lately. They cannot let Colorado slow them down and frustrate them with long sequences of play.

In a crucial point in this season, the Lightning cannot let these points slip between their fingers. They will have to claw and fight their way to the top and rely on a little luck. It’s time to toss the dice, Tampa Bay and with points here, they would be off to a great start.

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