TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning swarming offense has overrun opponents on the first three games of a five-game homestand.
The Lightning look to continue that trend and ground the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday at Amalie Arena.
Tampa Bay has scored the opening goal in each of the past three games, twice in the opening minute of the first period. In the past two games, the Lightning have built 3-0 leads by the midpoint of the opening period and rode that momentum to victory while riding a three-game win streak.
“When you’re up pretty early, it’s a tough hole to climb out for teams,” said Lightning center Brayden Point, who has 17 goals and 31 points on the season. “Sometimes even if they outplay you, it’s still a tough way to get out of. Getting the jump on things early is huge, and the past couple of games we’ve been able to do that, which is nice.”
The Lightning also hope to get back forward Ondrej Palat, who has missed the past 15 games with a foot injury suffered on Oct. 26 in Vegas.
Palat has been skating with the team in recent practices and on Monday worked in a line rotation as Steven Stamkos was given the day off for maintenance purposes.
“I feel pretty good. Conditioning getting there,” Palat said. “Today was kind of the first practice, practicing on a line. That was nice to be back with the team on the ice rather than skating by myself.”
Defenseman Anton Stralman remains out with an undisclosed upper-body injury. He has missed eight consecutive games.
Anaheim saw its four-game streak with at least a point come to an end with a loss in Nashville Sunday. The Ducks have points in five of their past seven games (3-2-2) as they start their first trip to the East Coast.
The Ducks made a handful of roster moves before heading out on the road, sending former first-round pick Max Comtois back to Drummondville in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as well as 20-year-old defenseman Josh Mahura to San Diego in the American Hockey League.
“They’ve all got to play, all young players,” Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle told the Orange County Register. “There’s a mandate there. It’s not written in stone, but when you have young players, it does them no good to sit on the bench. It doesn’t. It’s as simple as that. They’ve got to play.”
The Ducks also hope to get back center Carter Rowney possibly as soon as Tuesday. Rowney has been out since suffering an upper-body injury on Oct. 13 but has been skating with the team as he nears a return.
“He’s becoming an option,” Carlyle said.