Tampa Bay Lightning looks to kick off 2020 right against Canadiens

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to continue their winning ways into the new year as they head to the Bell Centre to take on the Montreal Canadiens.

The Tampa Bay Lightning has definitely found their footing over the course of the last couple of weeks. After a seriously rocky start to the season that left many Bolts fans scratching their heads, the Lightning has picked up victories in their last four games of 2019, all of which were against Divisional opponents.

Tonight, the Lightning will look to keep their momentum moving full speed ahead as they make their way to the Bell Centre to take on captain Shea Weber and the Montreal Canadiens in their first game of the new year. What better way to kick off the new decade with a victory over a Divisional opponent, right?

While the Lightning has been taken to the limit a time or two this season, the Bolts definitely hold the upper hand on the Canadiens heading into tonight’s contest. The Bolts have picked up victories in both encounters they’ve had with the Habs this season, including a 3-1 victory at the Bell Centre on October 15 and a 5-4 victory on December 28 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.

The Montreal Canadiens are not coming into tonight’s contest with anywhere near the same momentum as the Lightning. Since being defeated by the Lightning on December 28, the Canadiens have registered losses to the Florida Panthers on December 29 and the Carolina Hurricanes on New Year’s Eve.

At the same time, this isn’t necessarily a good thing for the Lightning. This means that not only to the Canadiens have something to prove, but they’re going to be in front of their hometown crowd. A situation like this one gives them all the more reason to come out swinging tonight.

The Lightning definitely has a lot going for them right now, and we’re not only talking about the fact the Lightning has actually pushed their way back into a postseason spot thanks to their most recent win streak. There are a couple of players who have really been lighting it up lately.

The most obvious of these players has been Lightning forward Alex Killorn. Killorn is on track for a career-high season. Killer is just five goals away from setting a new personal record in goals scored and 14 assists away from setting a new personal best in both assists and points.

Right now, the 30-year-old Halifax native has 15 goals and 19 assists for a total of 34 points through 36 games with a plus-9 rating. Alex Killorn has scored seven points in his last five games, including two goals and an assist against the Buffalo Sabres on New Year’s Eve and two goals and an assist against the very same Montreal Canadiens team the Lightning faces tonight on December 28.

Alex Killorn currently leads the team in goals and is in fourth place on the team in both assists and points.

Another player who has been coming into his own lately is Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. In addition to being stronger defensively, Sergachev is also finding success on the other side of the ice. The 21-year-old Russian defenseman is currently second on the team among defensemen in goals and third among defensemen in assists and overall points.

The thing Sergachev is most remembered for right now is the epic beatdown he gave to Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe in the second period on New Year’s Eve. Sergachev laid a hit on Sabres forward Jack Eichel. Apparently, McCabe took exception to this and decided he wanted to throw down with Sergy.

Needless to say, this didn’t work out well for McCabe. After landing the whole of one good hit on Sergachev, Sergachev proceeded to lay the absolute smackdown on McCabe before being separated by the officials. As Sergachev made his way to the penalty box, he went full Brian Boyle and proceeded to taunt the Sabres fans.

The remainder of this road trip is going to be essential for the Lightning. The Bolts have already picked up eight points against Divisional opponents in their last four games. In the three games left in the road trip, they will face two more Divisional rivals; the Montreal Canadiens tonight in Montreal and the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night in Ottawa. The Bolts will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the final game of the road trip on Sunday night in the second half of their back-to-back weekend series.

With the exception of the ridiculously slow start the Lightning had on December 28 against the Canadiens, the Bolts have shown signs of the dominant team we have come to know and love. If the Lightning can keep from falling back on old habits and keep their feet on the gas, Bolts fans could be in for a heck of a ride over the next few months.

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They say the journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. The Lightning took that first step on December 23 against the Florida Panthers with a decisive 6-1 victory. Let’s hope the Lightning continues to put one foot in front of the other and picks up some much-needed Divisional victories over the remainder of the road trip.