(SportsNetwork.com) – The Tampa Bay Lightning are hoping that Steven Stamkos
and Jonathan Drouin will emerge as one of the top 1-2 scoring punches in the
NHL. The duo are sure to be tested on Saturday night as they take on the
Minnesota Wild given the start goaltender Darcy Kuemper is off to.
Stamkos and Drouin were two of four goal-scorers in Friday night’s 4-2 win
over the Winnipeg Jets, with Ondrej Palat and Vladislav Namestnikov also
scoring. Stamkos potted his sixth goal of the campaign, while Drouin, the
third overall pick of the 2013 draft, scored his first career NHL goal while
adding his second assist of the campaign.
Nikita Kucherov assisted on all three of Tampa Bay’s second-period goals and
Ben Bishop came up with 40 saves as his club improved to 3-1-0 on a five-game
road trip that ends tonight.
“I’ll tell you the one thing I was proud of though is how we played in the
third,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “I know we got outscored 1-0 in the
third, but we had grade ‘A’s, and I didn’t think we gave up much.”
Drouin was able to return to action despite leaving the game for a bit in the
first period after taking a hit from behind. However, forwards J.T. Brown
(upper body) and Brett Connolly (lower body) were not as lucky as they both
exited early with injury.
Brown and Connolly join a number of other injured Bolts, including Victor
Hedman (broken right hand), Ryan Callahan (lower body) and Alex Killorn (upper
The Lightning should see their depth and scoring ability tested tonight if the
Wild go back to Kuemper in net. The 24-year-old has posted a shutout victory
in three of his four starts this season, giving up just two goals on 98 shots
Kuemper logged his fifth career shutout with Thursday’s 2-0 win over Arizona,
making 26 saves. Minnesota snapped a two-game slide in what was only its
second home game of the season. Kuemper stopped all 16 shots he faced in the
first, a win over Colorado on Oct. 9.
“I’m real fortunate to have the guys playing the way they are in front of me
defensively,” Kuemper said. “I’m kind of reaping the benefits of that.”
He was supported by goals from Charlie Coyle and Jason Pominville, while Jared
Spurgeon assisted on both markers.
Minnesota will be down two defenseman tonight as neither Keith Ballard nor
Christian Folin will play due to illness.
These two clubs split a pair of meetings last season, with each winning at
home. Tampa Bay has dropped two straight and six of its last eight in