Lightning look to extend home win streak vs. Devils
New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning
- The Devils beat the Lightning in a shootout in October, their second win in their last three games versus Tampa Bay. However, the Lightning have won each of their last four home games versus New Jersey, last losing to the Devils at home in October 2014.
- The Devils won, 5-2, at home versus the Hurricanes on Thursday. New Jersey scored five goals despite totaling just 22 shots on goal, its fewest shots on goal in a game it scored at least five goals since winning, 5-4, in overtime at Nashville on December 3, 2016 despite recording just 22 shots on goal.
- The Lightning won, 4-1, versus the Red Wings on Thursday to extend their home win streak to three games. Tampa Bay has been virtually unbeatable when scoring multiple goals at home this season, going 20-2-0 (.909) when lighting the lamp at least twice at home.
- Stefan Noesen lit the lamp twice on Thursday, his second career multi-goal game (also December 18 of this season versus Anaheim). The two goals were also his first two goals since that December 18 multi-goal game, snapping a streak of 21 consecutive games played without a goal.
- Nico Hischier had one goal and two assists on Thursday, his third three-point game (the most by a Devils rookie since Scott Gomez totaled four games with at least three points in 1999-00).
- Nikita Kucherov had one goal and three assists on Thursday, his 25th multi-point game of the season (most in the NHL and the most by a Lightning player in a single season since Steven Stamkos had 27 such games in 2011-12).
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning lean on their top players and the New Jersey Devils continue to see their top rookie become a key contributor late in the season when the teams meet Saturday at Amalie Arena.
The league-leading Lightning enter the game with three consecutive home wins after beating division rival Detroit on Thursday behind the strong play of the big three -- Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman.
Kucherov tied a career high with four points and three assists, Stamkos scored twice and Hedman added three assists as the trio combined for nine points in a 4-1 victory.
A team already deep with offensive talent, Tampa Bay is tough to beat when its top players are contributing.
And if one of the Big Three should falter or have an off game, Yanni Gourde, Vladislav Namestnikov, Tyler Johnson and Victor Hedman are more than capable of picking up the offensive burden for the Lightning.
"You want to step up every game, but there are certain times during the season where your top players rise to the occasion," Stamkos said. Thursday "was a good example of that with Kuch and Heddy playing well. And usually when the three of us can get on the scoresheet in some way, it's probably going to end up being good for our team."
That effort was a big part of an otherwise solid effort for a Tampa Bay team that had allowed three or more goals in 12 of the previous 17 games.
"They played well, they were working, they were defending and doing the things we asked," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
The Devils, meanwhile, are in the thick of the playoff race in the Metro Division thanks to Taylor Hall, who is garnering some Hart Trophy talk. But New Jersey is also getting a boost from rookie Nico Hischier, the top overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Hischier picked up a goal and three points in Thursday's divisional victory over Carolina. As the importance of the games have picked up, so has Hischier's game.
"I like to play in the big games," Hischier told NHL.com. "I just like to play in those situations; that's when I'm having the most fun."
Seeing a rookie rise to the occasion gives plenty of insight into the player.
"(Hischier's) a gamer and that's what separates some players," Devils coach John Hynes told NHL.com. "There's a lot of talented players in the league, but there's other guys that when the pressure gets turned up, the game becomes more intense or you need guys to step up and make plays; they can do it. Nico has done that for us."
The Devils will be without forward John Quenneville, who was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 10 and did not travel with the team to Florida. Former Lightning forward Brian Boyle, who missed Thursday's game, did make the trip.
Tampa Bay center Brayden Point missed practice on Friday for what the team called "body maintenance." Point missed Thursday's morning skate as well but was in the lineup against Detroit.
Updated February 17, 2018