The Tampa Bay Lightning come home from a six-game road trip that concluded with what arguably was their best performance of the season but face a challenging homestand that begins Saturday with a matchup against the unbeaten Colorado Avalanche. The Lightning, who also host Pittsburgh and Nashville during their stretch at home, gave up three power-play goals before outlasting Boston 4-3 in a shootout to finish their trek at 3-2-1.
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"I think our 5-on-5 play was fantastic," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk told reporters about a Tampa Bay team that has posted back-to-back wins for the first time this season. "We were smart with pucks in the neutral zone. When we did get it into their zone, we were just hounds on the puck. We possessed it and made them play defense and made them play a hard game." The Lightning have won the last five meetings, including a 7-1 rout at home last season, but they are facing a different Colorado team this time around. The Avalanche are the only club in the league that has yet to lose in regulation after rallying three times on Friday before winning 5-4 at Florida on Nathan MacKinnon's overtime tally. "Just shows the resilience our team has," MacKinnon told the Denver Post. "We're a very calm group, and confident group. Obviously, it's easy to be confident with our record, but no matter the game, we feel like we're (always) in it."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Altitude (Colorado), FS Sun (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (6-0-1): MacKinnon, who was a game-time decision due to a leg injury in Wednesday's overtime loss at Pittsburgh, scored his fourth goal of the season two nights later and tied linemate Mikko Rantanen for the team lead with 10 points. Andre Burakovsky scored twice to double his season total while Joonas Donskoi added a goal and two assists to double his point total in seven games. Veteran defenseman Ian Cole recorded a pair of assists in Friday's win and has posted a plus-7 rating in his first three contests after undergoing starting the campaign on the injured list following two offseason hip surgeries.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (4-2-1): Tampa Bay entered Friday tied with New Jersey for the most power-play goals allowed (nine) and fifth in times short-handed (28) after giving up three in five attempts on Thursday. "It's a testament to the team to lose the special-team war 3-0 and still win the hockey game," coach Jon Cooper told reporters. "But it should never have gotten to that. We get the 3-2 lead. ... the game's got to be over there. And we let a point slip away to a division rival." Captain Steven Stamkos notched an assist against Boston to take over the team lead with eight points while Shattenkirk tied him for the club's top spot with four goals.
1. Colorado C Nazem Kadri, who needs two assists to reach 200 for his career, notched three points in three games versus the Lightning last season.
2. Tampa Bay C Brayden Point has registered three goals and two assists in four contests since returning from double hip surgery.
3. Colorado G Pavel Francouz (1-0-0) could make his second start after Philipp Grubauer made 40 saves on Friday.
PREDICTION: Lightning 5, Avalanche 3 Bet Now
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