Lightning bid to return to winning ways vs. Coyotes

NHL Hockey
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The Tampa Bay Lightning hope to start a new winning streak Saturday when they face the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz.

The Lightning’s franchise record 11-game winning streak came to an end on the road against the Vegas Golden Knights Thursday night in a 5-3 loss.

Tampa Bay, however, sits comfortably in second place in the Atlantic Division and is within striking distance of the Boston Bruins.

“We knew we were on a great streak, but you’ve still got to play well to beat really good teams in this league. We’ll refocus and hopefully start a new streak,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told after the loss.

“We’re going to bounce back as a team. We had a great stretch. We played so much great hockey. All anyone is going to talk about is that we lost this game, but we’ve put a great stretch of hockey together. We’ll refocus, work on some things and play better next game.”

Stamkos has 12 goals and 20 points in his past 13 games for the Lightning, who have added more offensive punch to their roster with the acquisition of forward Blake Coleman from the New Jersey Devils.

Prior to the loss to Vegas, the Lightning had a 13-game winning streak against Pacific opponents and are now 10-1-0 against that division this season. One of those wins came against the Coyotes on Jan. 9, with Andrei Vasilevskiy making 25 saves and Nikita Kucherov scoring twice in the 4-0 victory.

Kucherov and Stamkos have a team co-leading 29 goals this season.

The Coyotes have dropped two in a row and fallen out of a playoff spot in the congested Western Conference. They’re hoping being at home, where they’ve won three of their last four, will turn things around.

No Western Conference team has played more games to this point of the season than the Coyotes (64), and fatigue seemed to catch up to them in a 1-0 loss at St. Louis Thursday night.

Antti Raanta has been nearly heroic in net in the absence of Darcy Kuemper. Raanta stopped 45 shots on Thursday.

“It just hit us. A lot of games,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet told “You could just tell some guys were really tired. We hung in there. Rants (Raanta) was unreal. … He gave us a chance. That’s basically the story. We had no juice at all.”

Raanta has stopped 109 of the last 112 shots he’s faced over his past three starts, but Tocchet would like to give him and the rest of the team some rest.

The Coyotes haven’t had much time between games of late, but play only twice in 10 days after the game against Tampa Bay.

“We’ve just got to hang the fort here. We’ve got a bunch of days off here next week, which this team is going to need,” Tocchet said. “But in the meantime, these are points we’ve got to get.”

–Field Level Media

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