Tampa Bay setting Atlantic pace

27 December 2017 09:52:54 GMTPlus11

The Tampa Bay Lightning return to the ice on Thursday at the Amalie Arena when they welcome in the Montreal Canadiens for the third contest of a four-game home stand.

The Lightning got the better of the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, winning 3-0 to follow Thursday's shootout defeat of the Ottawa Senators.

December has been a good month for Tampa Bay as the Lightning have won nine of ten and scored at least three goals in every game, even in their loss to the Golden Knights in Las Vegas.

Unsurprising then that Nikita Kucherov leads the league in both goals and points and Tampa Bay's 3.74 goals per contest is first in the NHL.

Friday sees the arrival of the Philadelphia Flyers for the home stand finale before the Lightning head out for a New Year's Eve clash with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Games against the Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Senators and Detroit Red Wings follow and it would be something of a surprise if the Lightning were not in first place in the Atlantic Division when the All-Star game heads to Tampa at the end of January.

Tampa Bay are 4.00 to win the Eastern Conference and 7.00 for Stanley Cup success this season. Montreal are 71.00 to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Toronto meanwhile is looking over their shoulder at the fast closing Boston Bruins. Boston is now just two points adrift of the Maple Leafs, but with three games in hand.

Winners of four straight heading into the Christmas break the Bruins will play three games in four nights starting Wednesday against Ottawa before heading out to Washington to match up with the Capitals.

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