TAMPA, Fla. — The explosive Tampa Bay Lightning offense hosts a New York Rangers team on Monday that struggles to keep the puck out of the net while away from home.
Coming off a 7-1 dismantling of the Colorado Avalanche for a sixth consecutive victory, the Lightning lead the league with 122 goals scored, 13 more than anybody else. Tampa Bay has scored five or more goals in a game 12 times through 31 games.
The Lightning have seven players with at least 20 points, five players who have reached double-digits in goals and 10 players with six or more goals. And if Tampa Bay didn’t have enough offensive depth, Ondrej Palat is back from a lengthy injury and back on the scoresheet.
Palat missed a month with a foot injury and after five games to get back into game shape, is starting to fit back in with the top line. Palat picked up a pair of goals in the victory against Colorado, his first two of the season.
“It feels good. It’s nice to get those first ones,” Palat said.
In his first five seasons, Palat has never failed to reach 16 goals in a full season (he scored 11 last season when he was limited to 56 games).
“It’s tough to come back from an injury, especially one like that,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said of Palat. “He’s had some bad breaks over the years, but at the end of the day when you look at that stats at the end of the year, he finds a way to get it done. He’s really worked extremely hard. Hopefully this will propel him and keep him going.”
The Rangers enter the game allowing the 4.14 goals per game on the road, third most in the league. New York has allowed for our more goals in nine of 14 road games on the season, including in Saturday’s shootout victory at Florida.
Rangers head coach David Quinn is looking for more consistency from his team.
“We did a lot of good things. We did things we were hoping to accomplish throughout the week in practice,” Quinn told NHL.com following Saturday’s game. “We built on it, and we didn’t sustain it. Our goal is to build off that first period.”
While New York has been boosted by the return of former Lightning first-round pick Vladislav Namestnikov after a three-game absence — he had one of the Rangers’ four goals on Saturday — the addition of Ryan Strome — a former No. 5 overall pick of the New York Islanders — figures to provide more depth for a New York team that continues to hover around the playoff picture.
Strome has two goals and five points in 10 games since being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers.
“I think the thing is just don’t get complacent,” Strome told the New York Post. “I think in my career, I’ve had some good moments, I’ve had some down moments. I think I’ve learned to stay even-keeled now. So I’m trying to take this in. At the end of the day, we have to win some more hockey games here and there’s always more you can do to help out.”