Red-hot Lightning leading NHL in more than wins

Red-hot Lightning leading NHL in more than wins

Nikita Kucherov, top left, celebrates with teammate Steven Stamkos (91) after scoring against Florida Panthers goalie James Reimer. [AP photo]The Lightning (15-2-2) enters tonight’s game against the visiting Islanders (10-6-2) leading the league in just about everything.

The Lightning is off to the best start in franchise history through 19 games, four points better than the 2013-14 and 2014-15 squads. The Lightning’s 15-2-2 record and .842 points percentage are the best in the NHL after 19 games since the 2012-13 Blackhawks, who started 16-0-3 with a .921 points percentage.

The Lightning’s 4.00 goals are tops in the NHL and its 2.42 goals allowed per game per game are tied for second.

The Lightning has won a season-best five straight games, out-scoring opponents 22-9 during the streak.

When asked this morning about keeping the team motivated during its hot start, coach Jon Cooper said, “You just get out of the way.”

Cooper said the team has improved in a number of areas, but he’s not sure he would have predicted 15 wins in the first 19 games. Still, if you divide the season in half the Lightning have been two different teams.

“The difference in our team is the first eight or nine games, our goalie was the reason we were winning those games,” he said. “Now we’re winning the games as a team, and you got to like that.”

Individually, C Steven Stamkos leads the NHL with 35 points, including a league-best 25 assists.

RW Nikita Kucherov is first in the NHL with 17 goals and second with 33 points.

G Andrei Vasilevskiy leads the NHL with 14 wins. He is 13-0-1 in his last 14 starts. Beginning with a win against the Blues, he has allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of 12 starts. He is sixth in save percentage (.932) and ninth in goals against average (2.24).

The Islanders are off to a good start, as well. They beat the Blues in St. Louis last Saturday 5-2, so they would like to knock off the top team in the Western Conference and Eastern Conference on consecutive Saturdays.

The Islanders are led by C John Tavares, who has 13 goals (tied for second in the NHL with Alex Ovechkin) and 19 points. Linemate Anders Lee has nine goals and 19 points.

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