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Mar 31, 2024 7:42 pm

Lightning hope to carry March momentum into Red Wings tilt

stamkos

Though Monday’s home game against the Detroit Red Wings kicks off April and the start of the final 2 1/2 weeks of the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning are probably sad to see March fly away from the calendar.

Tampa Bay reeled off nine wins in 11 games (9-1-1) in the month. The only setbacks were a 6-3 home loss to the Calgary Flames on March 7 and a 4-3 overtime loss 16 days later to the Los Angeles Kings during a five-game road trip.

In Saturday night’s 4-1 home victory over the New York Islanders, the streaking Lightning (41-25-7, 89 points) did not let a bad break on the visitors’ first shot derail them.

New York’s Kyle Palmieri fired a puck that deflected in off Tampa Bay defenseman Matt Dumba just 2:25 into the teams’ final matchup.

Steven Stamkos said that, earlier in the season, trying to rebound from that kind of bad luck may have gone another way.

“Maybe earlier in the year we’d have been a little dejected,” the captain said. “Obviously, when you’re on a roll like we have been and are playing the game the right way, you’re just sticking to the game plan and executing shift after shift. It begins to wear other teams down.”

Stamkos redirected in the 545th goal of his career in the third for a 3-1 lead. It was reviewed for a high stick but stood up.

That marker moved him to 32nd in all-time goals, passing Maurice Richard. The next target is Michel Goulet’s 548.

It was his 30th goal of the year, his ninth time reaching the milestone in 16 seasons.

Brandon Hagel had two assists and set a career high for points in a season at 66 (23 goals, 43 assists).

Detroit (36-30-8, 80 points) sits just two points behind the No. 2 wild card occupied by the Philadelphia Flyers, but that number could have very well been one if the Red Wings had capitalized on a late power play against the Florida Panthers.

The Wings had a full two-minute, four-on-three man advantage after Florida’s Aleksander Barkov went off for tripping 34 seconds into overtime.

However, neither team could score, and Sam Reinhart netted the only shootout marker while Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky slammed the door on the Wings’ Lucas Raymond, Patrick Kane and Dylan Larkin for a 3-2 Florida victory.

“Obviously under the circumstances you want to get two (points),” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “But in reality, we knew this was going to be a really tough road trip. We’re trying to eat as many points we can and we’ve taken points in two of our last three (games). Gutsy by the guys, a lot of positives.”

A major positive was Larkin.

The Detroit captain was hurt early in the game and left the bench twice. However, he gutted it out, netted the power-play tally that forced overtime and played through pain the whole contest.

“Larks, the way his night has been — comes back, goes out and comes back — and finds a way to get that big goal, a big point for us,” David Perron said. “Unbelievable effort by him.”

Larkin, who took a hard shot off the outside of his knee, notched his 29th goal. Robby Fabbri scored his 17th and Florida native Shayne Gostisbehere had two assists.

–Field Level Media

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