Looking Back On Tampa Bay's 2023-24 Season

The Tampa Bay Lightning had yet another early Stanley Cup Playoffs exit in 2023-24. But not all is lost. We take a gander at some of the high points of the Bolts' season.
Apr 27, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Nicholas Paul (20) is congratulated
Apr 27, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Nicholas Paul (20) is congratulated / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning are once again back home early this playoff season following a first-round series loss to the Florida Panthers. That marks the second straight year in which the Bolts were sent in the opening round. It's not all bad in Tampa as we take a look back on the positives, as well as the lowest moments of the 2023-24 season in Tampa Bay.

A Season Opening Win vs. Nashville

Let's travel back in time to the first game of the season against the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena. What makes this game so special? Anytime you start the season 1-0 should be a cause for celebration, but this night was the start of a memorable season for Nikita Kucherov. The 10th-year NHL veteran would start his season with a two-goal night en route to 42 more in the next 80 games. The other highlights from that night included two powerplay goals from Nick Paul, as well as a multi-point night from Braydon Point. This offensive output from the aforementioned cast would set the tone for the Lightning offense for the rest of the season.

The Big Cat Makes His Return

The day is November 24th and the Lightning are set to take on the Hurricanes in a post-Thanksgiving matchup in Carolina. At the time the Lightning are third in the Atlantic Division and were in better shape than most speculated them to be when they started the season without their Vezina-caliber goaltender. For the first time on this night, we will see Andrei Vasilevskiy on the ice. Tampa would go on to win the game 8-2 with an impressive performance from the Big Cat.

Lightning Find Their Mojo in March

The Lightning had their ups and downs like any other team this season, but it was the month of March when the Lightning found their game. Not only did Tampa Bay put together a record of 9-1-1 during the month, but it was also who they defeated during that stretch that was most impressive. Within the span of the 11 games played in March the Bolts picked up five of their nine wins against teams that would eventually go onto play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Nikita Kucherov Makes History

It was evident from the start of the season that Nikita Kucherov needed to carry the Lightning as far as he could if the Lightning were to grab a playoff spot in a very competitive Eastern Conference. Kucherov set the pace for what would eventually be a historic season by scoring two goals in the season-opening game against the Nashville Predators. This season wouldn't mark the first time Kucherov has tallied the century mark in points, but the veteran winger would turn heads around the league with his torrid pace of scoring. Not only would Kucherov go on to set the record for most points scored in a season in franchise history, he would also become the fifth player in NHL history to eclipse the century mark for assists in a season.