With their 5-1 win over the fraught Ottawa Senators on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lightning reached their 50th win this season and made a little history in the process.
The Lightning earned win number 50 just their 66th game of the season, tying the Detroit Red Wings of 1995-1996 as the fastest NHL teams to hit the mark.
“As we’ve been winning here, I don’t know if we’re fully aware all the time,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “A lot of these things I find out in the media scrums. Our senior advisor (Steve Yzerman) was on that (Red Wings) team, so it’s probably good we didn’t break that record. We just tied it.”
The Lightning are (obviously) on top of the league right now and they’re winning games at an unreachable pace. They could hit their 62nd win, which is another Red Wings record from that same team, by the way.
Tampa recently had a 10-game win streak snapped by the Boston Bruins, but they came back big time and decisively trounced the Senators. All six Lightning defenceman found the scoreboard on Saturday, with the team setting a franchise record by having nine points come from the blueliners.
Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Erik Cernak, and Mikhail Sergachev all scored against the Senators.
And, of course, Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist. The NHL’s leading scorer reached 75 assists on the season, the first to do so since Henrik Sedin in 2010-2011. The goal was his 31st of the year and his point totals now have him a dozen up on Chicago’s Patrick Kane.
This is the second consecutive season the Lightning have won 50 games and the third in franchise history. Tampa has only lost consecutive games in regulation once this season, while the Senators allowed five or more goals for the 22nd time this season. Talk about teams trending in opposite directions.
“We definitely needed to find a way to find a win tonight,” McDonagh said. “You never want to let things snowball or get to a negative slide into our game. We have a lot of experience and good leaders in here to where we wanted to make a stand here at home and it’s a great sign.”
The Lightning will gear up to face the Winnipeg Jets at home on Tuesday. Winnipeg is currently first in the Central Division with a game in Columbus Sunday ahead of the big tilt with Tampa.