Enjoying comforts of home, Lightning face Red Wings

Firmly entrenched in a recent run of superb play, the Tampa Bay Lightning are adhering to one of the most common narratives this time of year — being home for the holidays.

After a November in which they went 8-4-1, the Lightning will play the second contest of their season-long six-game homestand Tuesday when they host the Detroit Red Wings in the first of four matchups this season.

In all, Tampa Bay will play eight more December matches at its home by the bay, closing out 2022 with three home tilts in four days — versus the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Arizona Coyotes.

Home ice has been good to the third-place Lightning, who are 8-3-1 on it and coming off an impressive meeting with the division-rival Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

The Lightning scored twice on the power play in the third period to take a 3-2 lead, then saw veteran Alex Killorn pot the game-winning goal 33 seconds into overtime for a 4-3 victory over the second-place Leafs.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper, whose squad was 2-for-6 on the power play but allowed Mitch Marner’s short-handed tally, said special teams created a “weird” flow throughout.

“Just way too many power plays and penalties,” Cooper said. “It takes away from the flow and everything that is going on. It just kind of disrupted everything. It was a weird game tonight, just weird. … The only benefit was we got the extra point, but it was a weird game.”

Weird but good in many respects, as Tampa Bay had plenty to be pleased about.

From a team standpoint, the club tied its franchise record with a power-play goal in its 10th consecutive game.

Player-wise, Anthony Cirelli (offseason shoulder surgery) made his season debut and recorded two assists, including the primary one on Killorn’s game-winner. Corey Perry had two helpers in his 1,200th career game, and Vladislav Namestnikov broke his 23-game goalless drought.

On Sunday night at the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Wings capped a back-to-back for the third time this season — improving to 3-0 on the second game of such occurrences.

After holding a 3-0 lead following Lucas Raymond’s seventh tally, Detroit saw the Jackets whittle the deficit to 3-2 early in the third period on a marker by former Michigan Wolverines standout Kent Johnson.

“Credit to the guys,” said Detroit coach Derek Lalonde, whose squad trails Tampa Bay by two points. “”It’s a mindset. I don’t know how many teams in this league are going to go 3-0 in back to backs. It’s one thing to sleep in your own bed and play a back-to-back, but play at home and fly out and turn around and play the next day at 6 p.m., that hour does make a difference.”

Tuesday will also be a homecoming for Lalonde. The first-year Wings head coach was an assistant under Cooper from 2018 to 2022 — part of Stanley Cup-winning Lightning clubs in 2020 and 2021.

Dating back to Feb. 3, 2016, including one playoff series later that season that it lost in five games, the Motor City team is just 6-23-5 against Tampa Bay.

–Field Level Media