LIGHTNING (27-13-4) AT DEVILS (16-21-7)
7 p.m. ET; MSG+, SUN, NHL.TV
The Tampa Bay Lightning can make franchise history Sunday night as they go for their 11th consecutive victory when they face the New Jersey Devils in Newark, N.J.
The Lightning tied their team record of 10 wins in a row — set Feb. 9-27 last season — with a 1-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night, in the front end of their road back-to-back.
Andrei Vasilevskiy had 23 saves while recording his second straight shutout and eighth straight win in net. Vasilevskiy, who had 25 saves in a 4-0 win over Arizona on Thursday, extended his shutout streak to 145:55 as Tampa Bay closed to within seven points of first-place Boston in the Atlantic Division.
“We knew what we had to do to get back in this race, and now we’re back in it, (and) we want to keep this rolling,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It starts with your own end. The boys are committed right now, and it’s been fun to watch.”
Cooper was asked what the recipe has been for the team’s back-to-back shutouts.
“You turn the puck over less, and you don’t give up odd-man rushes,” he said. “That’s where it starts. But we’re defending well. There’s an attention to detail there going on in the D-zone. Guys are committed.”
Pat Maroon scored the lone goal of the game, his first in 24 games, before leaving in the third period after crashing into the boards with his right shoulder. Cooper joked he was not sure how serious the injury was because “of all the ice bags he has on.”
“On this little streak we have here, we’ve been doing a good job of coming into defense … and clogging up the middle of the ice in the defensive zone,” Maroon said during a between-periods TV interview. “The good thing about our game right now is we’re breaking out fast, we’re closing quick in the D-zone and we’re playing fast in the D-zone. I think at the beginning of the year, we weren’t doing that.
“Anyone knows coming down the stretch here that defense leads into good offense, and defense wins championships.”
New Jersey also won the front end of its back-to-back on Saturday night with a 5-1 victory at Metropolitan Division-leading Washington, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Nico Hischier scored two goals, his first multi-goal game of the season, and Louis Domingue finished with 33 saves to lead the Devils.
Hischier was asked if the victory over the Capitals could have a carryover into Sunday night’s game with the Lightning.
“That’s what we talk about,” Hischier said. “Not to get too high and not to get too low. We obviously feel good about ourselves, but (Sunday) I think Tampa is pretty hot, too. They’re going to come into our building and be ready to play. We’ve just got to make sure we’re ready to skate too.”
This is the second meeting between the two teams. The Lightning won a wild 7-6 game in overtime on Oct. 30 in Tampa on Tyler Johnson’s goal 1:16 into OT. Kyle Palmieri had a hat trick in the loss for New Jersey, including a goal with 7.4 seconds left in the third period to tie it and force overtime.
The Devils outshot the Lightning 42-23 in the first meeting.
–Field Level Media