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Quick Strikes: Tampa Bay Lightning have surprising competition for first place

And a hat trick of hat tricks on Saturday Night.

Buffalo Sabres v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 28: Braydon Coburn #55 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Zemgus Girgensons #28 of the Buffalo Sabres fight for the puck during a game at Amalie Arena on February 28, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Team

In some Tampa Bay Lightning-adjacent news, the Buffalo Sabres sit atop the NHL’s standings with their ninth straight win in a row, beating the Dertoit Red Wings 3-2. They now have 34 points in 24 games, one point ahead of Tampa Bay’s 33 points in 23 games. The Lightning will have a chance to get back ahead with a win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday (linked next). [Die By the Blade]

It was a fast paced first period in Detroit. Both teams had their opportunities on the rush throughout the opening 20 minutes. The Sabres got on the board first with Jeff Skinner scoring his 18th goal of the season on the power play. He was around the net again to bang home a Jack Eichel rebound to give the Sabres the lead.

18 goals for Jeff Skinner is good enough for first in the NHL. He’s three buts ahead of our own small-ish star Brayden Point.

Speaking of the Lightning and winning streaks, the Bolts will try to make it a mini-three-in-a-row streak with a win over New Jersey at home on Thanksgiving Sunday. Lineups, injuries, matchup info, and storylines can be found below. [NHL dot com]

The Lightning remain in first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference by a point over Buffalo and are tied with Nashville for first place overall in the NHL... Tampa Bay is undefeated against Metropolitan Division teams entering Sunday (6-0-0)...The Bolts own the top goal differential (+21) in the league, including a NHL-best +19 goal differential at home...Tampa Bay has won four of its last five contests and four of its last five games at home.

LET THANKSGIVING BE DONE FIRST, JEEZ.

Reddit user TheBakerAndTymoShow made a montage of the Bolts’ season so far and I think it’s great! give it a view!

The Prospects

It’s been a busy week for the minor-league affiliates, beating hockey teams and cancer all at the same time is busy work.

The Crunch are winners of SEVEN GAMES IN A ROW, and Cory Conacher has been a huge part of the team’s success. They look to make it eight in a row on Friday in Cleveland against the tough Monsters.

Lightning prospect stopped all 27 shots he faced against the Springfield Thunderbirds (in a game our very own Associate Editor Alex attended on the road!) for the win and the team’s seventh straight victory. [Syracuse]

The Crunch doubled its lead during 5-on-3 play with 5:25 remaining in the game. Taylor Raddysh fed Conacher at the top of the right circle for a one-timer. His shot was blocked, but the rebound kicked out for Alex Barre-Boulet to clean up from near the post.

The Orlando Solar Bears held their annual Star Wars Night, which was fun!

And the Adorindack Thunder’s mascot Gunnar played the national anthem on electric guitar!

The Game

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas attempting to learn how to floss from a local Toronto kid easily a quater of his age was extremely fulfilling to watch.

Taking a sharp right turn, this thread by former NHLer Dan Carcillo on Bullying Awareness Week about his days in the CHL was...honestly frightening and traumatizing. I can’t imagine being a 16- or 17-year-old experiencing such things. Please spread Dan’s story and make sure your kids are above this kind of behaviour on their fellow humans.

And now for a sharp left turn, the NHL saw several hat tricks, inclduing a very special one from Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine.

Former Toronto Marlies winger Andreas Johnsson scored three goals on his former trammate Calvin Pickard, kicking him out of the game on the team’s fourth score. Leafs ended up winning the game 6-0. They are only one point back of the Lightning with one fewer game in hand. [Pension Plan Puppets]

Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel also potted three against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Defenseman Kris Letang assisted on all three goals, and captain Sidney Crosby got in on the action for two goals. The Penguins beat the Blue Jackets 4-2 and are now five teams clear of bottom spot in the East. [Pensburgh]

The best hatty of the night was off the stick of Patrik Laine. Not only did he score three, but he scored four and five before the 8-4 Winnipeg Jets win over the St. Louis Blues ended. Laine now finds himself in the record books with some pretty legendary company. Okay, the legendary company. [Sportsnet]

One last thing. I would really appreciate it if you helped out my friend and coworker here at Raw Charge Incorporated Lauren Kelly with a poll she is doing for school. Give her your opinion and please share the poll with your hockey-passionate friends!