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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Jan 12, 2024 7:16 pm

Lightning ‘grinding’ out wins as aching Ducks land in town

In his first season wearing the blue of the Tampa Bay Lightning, forward Luke Glendening is getting to know the organization well.

The three-time Stanley Cup champions surely like what they are seeing on the ice from the fourth-line center, too.

After winning the first two dates of their four-game homestand in overtime, the Lightning will search for two more points when they host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night.

Coach Jon Cooper expects plenty from his scrappy pivot, who is known for his grinding game and faceoff prowess.

However, lately it has been the 11-year veteran’s scoring touch that has surfaced to play a crucial role for the Lightning, who need a much better second half of the season to earn a postseason spot in an ultra-competitive Eastern Conference.

In Thursday’s 4-3 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils, Glendening scored twice in the first period, including the club’s first short-handed goal of the year and the seventh of Glendening’s career, giving Tampa Bay a spark through 20 minutes.

“I thought we grinded tonight — we weren’t great — but we stuck to it and got two points in the end,” said Glendening, whose eight points (seven goals) has already surpassed his six-point total with the Dallas Stars in 2022-23. “We’ve put ourselves in this spot and have got to dig our way out a little bit here.”

The Lightning are 6-0-0 when the Grand Rapids, Mich., native has scored.

Glendening joked that he is happy to be playing with the Lightning and the likes of Nikita Kucherov, who set up Darren Raddysh’s game-winner Thursday, instead of against them.

“I’ve played against (Kucherov) for 10 years, so it’s really nice to be on this side,” said Glendening, who spearheads the bottom line with Austin Watson and Michael Eyssimont. “(These guys are) just a bunch of competitors. When things don’t go their way, they stick with it. That’s why they’ve been so successful in the past.”

Times are not nearly as good for the Ducks.

Despite winning 5-3 Tuesday in Nashville over the Predators to open a season-long six-game road swing mostly east of the Mississippi River, Anaheim found that its two points came at quite an expense.

It lost two exciting young players in the Music City: forward Trevor Zegras (broken left ankle) in his 200th career NHL game and rookie defenseman Pavel Mintyukov (separated shoulder).

Zegras, 22, will soon undergo surgery and miss approximately six to eight weeks. The 20-year-old Mintyukov will miss roughly six weeks.

“It’s a bad omen when he got hurt, but we fought through it,” Ducks coach Greg Cronin said after the costly win. “When you have that happen, your lines are never going to be the same, so you have to stay focused. We did a good job with that.”

Following Thursday’s 6-3 loss at the Carolina Hurricanes, the Ducks have dropped six of their past seven games (1-5-1).

“We couldn’t get shots on net,” Cronin said of the trip’s second outing. “They were blocking shots. When you’re not generating chances to feed momentum, it’s just going to be a long night.”

In their 16 meetings since the 2014-15 season, the Lightning are 12-3-1 with an active three-game winning streak against Anaheim.

–Field Level Media

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