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Lightning Round: Breaking down the last third of the regular season

The Lightning lost their second game in a row on Saturday night

NHL: FEB 22 Lightning at Hurricanes Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2020-21 regular season is slowly getting to the last third. Yesterday the Tampa Bay Lightning played their 34th game of the season, posting a 24-8-2 record since the start of the season. The team is leading the Central Division in both total points and total percentage and has almost secured their playoff spot. The race for first place is still ahead of them as the three leading teams are separated by just four points. The new intradivisional format of the playoffs will allow the division champion to avoid two other teams from the leading group in the first round.

The Lightning still have to play twice against the Carolina Hurricanes and four times against the Florida Panthers. Both series are very close: while the Lightning leads the Canes 3-2 so far this season, the series against the Panthers is even at 2-2.

The Lightning will spend the next two weeks playing against the teams from the bottom part of the division, two of them – the Nashville Predators and the Columbus Blue Jackets – still have chances to make the postseason. In fact the Lightning will face the Blue Jackets 5 times in the remaining 22 games of the regular season. Both teams have met so far twice with each team getting one victory this year.

The end of the regular season is expected to be busy for the Lightning. Currently the team has six games in span of eight days in early May. Two of those games against the Dallas Stars weren’t initially scheduled for this dates and were moved there after COVID-19 outbreak within the Stars team at the beginning of the season. The game against the Panthers on May 6 still needs to be rescheduled as the Lightning will play against the Stars on May 5 and May 7.

The last game of the regular season is scheduled so far for May 8. Over that timespan the Lightning will play 22 games, 13 of those games will be played at Amalie Arena and the remaining 9 games will be on the road. Tampa Bay will also play four back-to-backs, including one against the closest Lightning’s opponent – the Carolina Hurricanes.

Lightning Links

The Lightning lost consecutive games on Saturday night after falling 3-4 to the Carolina Hurricanes. The fourth line was arguably the best Lightning’s line that night, creating two goals for the team [Raw Charge]

The fourth line was the most effective for the Lightning that night. They created two goals for their team, including a tying goal in the second period from Mathieu Joseph. Ross Colton recorded his fifth point in eight NHL games and Pat Maroon had a two-point night. After scoring a goal in the first period Maroon has now scored against every franchise in the NHL.

In his postgame interview Pat Maroon admitted that taking too many penalties killed the Lightning last night.

Ross Colton, who recorded his fifth NHL point in this game, discussed his performance in the NHL and his chemistry with Pat Maroon and Mathieu Joseph.

A three-game winning streak ended for the Orlando Solar Bears yesterday after a 3-6 loss.

It took them five overtimes, but Cole Koepke’s Univ. of Minnesota-Duluth team beat North Dakota 3-2 and advanced to the Frozen Four. Koepke scored the second goal for his team.

Hockey News

The Boston Pride have won the Isobel Cup for the second time in their history. All three playoff games were broadcasted for the first time in their history on the major U.S. cable network.

The New York Rangers traded forward Brandan Lemieux to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

The Montreal Canadiens signed forward Cole Caufield to a three-year entry-level contract.

Per Elliotte Friedman, the Carolina Hurricanes and their head coach Rod Brind’Amour are close to signing an extension.

A former Tampa Bay Lightning player Carter Verhaeghe scored his second career hat-trick last night against the Dallas Stars.