Quick Strikes: The Lightning head into the holiday break on a high note

Nikita Kucherov. He’s pretty good.

The Bolts

The Lightning head into the holiday break having earned seven of eight points on the Western Canadian roadtrip. They put a definitive stamp on this recent stretch of games with a 6-3 win led by five points from Nikita Kucherov and two goals from Steven Stamkos. Check out the full recap here.

Steven Stamkos shone once again, scoring the first goal for the Bolts, and then the eventual brace that sealed the win for the Lightning. With those two goal, he has 20 on the season 10th time in his career (most of those years had well over 20 goals).

Not to be out-done, Nikita Kucherov recorded the twelfth five-point night in Lightning history by scoring a goal and getting four assists en route to the win. He and Tyler Johnson were brilliant together all night, especially when the Oilers gave them half a dozen 2-on-1’s.

Shootouts: Love them or hate them, you can’t deny the excitement [Tampa Bay Times]

”I like shootouts,” Kucherov said. “It’s a lot of fun for the players. They get to see their favorite players make moves and goalies make great saves. The shootout is all about the skill set you have and patience.”

A look at how former New York Rangers are doing around the NHL [Blue Line Station]

Ryan McDonagh is having a Norris Trophy quality season. He leads all Lightning defensemen with 22 points and is an amazing plus 20. It’s amazing considering he is often matched up against the top opposing lines.

Some Lightning players visited their favorite NHL cities on this trip [Tampa Bay Times]

Recently, the Lightning had a day off, not even practicing, in New Jersey and another in Vancouver. Most of the players used the day in New Jersey to head over to New York City. Vancouver, however, ranks as a few players’ favorite cities.

Mike Harrington’s NHL Power Rankings [Buffalo News]

1. Tampa Bay Lightning. Suddenly making a runaway of Atlantic race. (1)

The Prospects

The Crunch got some bad news yesterday. Goalie Connor Ingram will miss the next few weeks after suffering an injury on Friday. The team already called up Martin Oullette from Orlando to fill in during the absence. This will be Oullette’s second extended stint in Syracuse. He was there for length of Andrei Vasilevskiy’s injury while Eddie Pasquale was in Tampa.

Crunch Preview: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton comes to town for some pre-Christmas hockey [Raw Charge]

The Crunch will most likely be starting Eddie Pasquale in net against the Penguins. The big question will be who will be backing him up? The AHL transaction page shows that Martin Ouellette was recalled, and Crunch confirmed the callup via Twitter.

The Game

Raising the Pack: How education and hockey are working together to grow the game [The Athletic, paywall content]

The NHL offers a league-distributed grant each year, known as Industry Growth Funding, or IGF. The purpose of the grants are to help grow the game at the grassroots level, offering up the cash for everything from NCAA program feasibility studies to STEM programs that help students learn science and technology through hockey-inspired projects and units.