Preview: Lightning at Panthers
The league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning have begun the month with a five-game point streak and attempt to extend it Sunday, when they visit the Florida Panthers. Tampa Bay improved to 3-0-2 during its run as it avenged its most recent loss by posting a 5-4 home victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
The Lightning squandered a two-goal lead in the second period before Tyler Johnson and J.T. Miller scored in the third to help give the team league highs of 40 wins and 84 points. Anthony Cirelli recorded a goal and an assist for his third two-point performance of the season and first since back-to-back efforts on Dec. 10 and 13. Florida also let a two-goal lead slip away on Saturday, doing so in the third period at Washington before Mike Hoffman converted a power-play opportunity 1:31 into overtime for a 5-4 victory. The Panthers, who went 3-2-0 on a homestand prior to the win over the Capitals, begin a seven-game stretch at BB&T Center having won six of their last eight overall contests.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, FS Sun (Tampa Bay), FS Florida
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (40-11-4): Alex Killorn notched a pair of assists on Saturday but saw his goal-scoring drought reach six games. The 29-year-old left wing has tallied just once in his last 17 contests and remains two shy of 100 for his career. Cirelli, who leads the team with four short-handed goals, became the eighth member of the Lightning to hit double digits in tallies while Miller got within one of joining the group.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (23-22-8): Roberto Luongo made his 1,000th career start on Saturday while appearing in his 1,029th NHL game, tying Patrick Roy for second place on the all-time list for goaltenders. The 39-year-old Luongo also climbed within one win of pulling even with Ed Belfour (484) for third in league history. Captain Aleksander Barkov, who leads the team with 53 points, has collected two goals and four assists during his four-game streak and is one tally away from his fourth consecutive 20-goal season.
1. Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov, who leads the NHL with 81 points, was one of five members of the team that failed to record one on Saturday.
2. Three of Hoffman's team-leading five game-winning goals this season have come in overtime.
3. Tampa Bay has posted six straight 40-win seasons and 10 overall in franchise history.
PREDICTION: Lightning 5, Panthers 2