The Tampa Bay Lightning already won the Presidents’ Trophy, but they’re not slowing down. They earned a 5-4 overtime victory against Washington on Wednesday to extend their winning streak to six games and improve to 57-13-4 on the season. With 118 points, the Lightning are in a five-way tie for 14th place on the all-time single-season points list – and Tampa Bay still has eight games left. While Tampa Bay in unlikely to best Montreal’s 1976-77 record mark of 132 points, it’s not an impossibility and with just one more win (or two overtime losses), the 2018-19 Lightning would go down as one of the top-10 teams ever in terms of regular season points.
That won’t matter to the Lightning though if they don’t turn this regular season success into a Stanley Cup championship and this game certainly raised questions there. A win’s a win, but the Lightning were outshot 58-28. This time goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy managed to get them through it, but for as good as Vasilevskiy is, no goaltender should be relied on to handle that kind of onslaught regularly. That’s one of the few areas where the Lightning are a bit of a question mark given that they’re the 10th worst team in terms of shots against (32.4) despite allowing the fourth least goals (194).
There’s also just the reality that regular season success doesn’t always carry over into the playoffs. Over the last 10 seasons, only the Chicago Blackhawks in the lockout shortened 2013 campaign have managed to win both the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup. The last three Presidents’ Trophy winners have all lost in the second round. Still, even with all those warnings, it’s hard not to look at this season’s Tampa Bay Lightning and not see a favorite for the Cup, especially with sequences like this.
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TORONTO 4 BUFFALO 2
Auston Matthews found the back of the net and registered an assist. He’s up to 35 goals and 68 points in 60 contests.
John Tavares also had a goal and an assist for Toronto. That gives him 41 goals and 81 points in 74 games.
Alexander Nylander scored a goal for the Sabres. It was his first marker and third point in five games.
Carter Hutton stopped 42 of 45 Maple Leafs shots. He’s surrendered at least three goals in each of his last three starts.
At the other end of the ice, Garret Sparks saved 22 of 24 shots. Toronto’s backup goaltender hadn’t won a game since Feb. 2.
TAMPA BAY 5 WASHINGTON 4 (OT)
Victor Hedman scored the overtime winner and registered an assist. That gives him 11 goals and 49 points in 66 games.
Steven Stamkos found the back of the net and registered two assists. The Lightning forward has 37 goals and 85 points in 74 contests.
Nikita Kucherov contributed a pair of power-play goals for Tampa Bay. He’s up to 37 goals and 119 points in 74 games.
Washington’s T.J. Oshie contributed a goal and an assist. He has 22 goals and 47 points in 63 games.
Braden Holtby stopped 23 of 28 Lightning shots. He’s allowed nine goals over his last two starts against Tampa Bay.
Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 54 of a staggering 58 shots last night. Washington fired at least 15 shots in each of the first three periods and 22 in the second frame alone.
VANCOUVER 7 OTTAWA 4
It’s worth noting that the Canucks had a 5-0 lead early in the third period before the Seantors attempted a comeback. Four different Senators scored, but Dylan DeMelo assisted on three of those goals. DeMelo has three goals and 19 points in 68 games this season.
The Senators’ failed comeback did succeed in Jacob Markstrom’s night statistically. He stopped just 21 of 25 shots, eight of 12 shots in the third period.
Loui Eriksson scored a goal and registered three assists for Vancouver. He’s up to 11 goals and 27 points in 73 games.
Alexander Edler assisted on three of Vanouver’s seven goals. That gives him eight goals and 28 points in 48 contests.
Anders Nilsson surrendered six goals on 39 shots. He’s 13-18-1 with a 3.04 GAA and .907 save percentage in 33 contests.
WINNIPEG 3 ANAHEIM 0
Connor Hellebuyck earned a 29-save shutout over the Ducks. He improved to 31-20-2 with a 2.92 GAA and .912 save percentage in 55 games.
Rickard Rakell had a team-high five shots on Hellebuyck. Rakell has recorded at least five shots in 11 different games this season, but has scored just one goal over those contests.
Mark Scheifele scored the first and therefore game-winning goal. It was his 35th marker and 80th point in 73 games.
Kyle Connor had a goal and an assist for Winnipeg. He’s up to 29 goals and 57 points in 73 contests.
John Gibson stopped 20 of 23 Ducks shots. That ended his four-game winning streak.