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PREVIEW: Tampa Bay Lightning put perfect home record on line vs. Wings

Jan 28, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde (37) skates with the puck against Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Jake Bean (24) at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Home has proved to be where the points are for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning improved their home mark to 4-0-0 Monday night at Amalie Arena, wrapping up a series sweep of the Nashville Predators with a strong 5-2 victory.

Center Yanni Gourde scored two goals and captain Steven Stamkos etched his name into the franchise record book in the win.

On Wednesday, the Lightning open a two-game home series against the Detroit Red Wings — mired in the Central Division basement with only two wins in 10 games — in a rare 5:30 ET weekday start.

Stamkos made history when he made the score 4-0 with a power-play goal in the second period Monday, setting a team record for most points (301) on the man advantage by passing Martin St. Louis.

However, Stamkos , who will turn 31 on Sunday, gave credit to his team’s second straight win to where it belonged — his teammates’ play in a three-goal first period that saw goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy keep Nashville scoreless.

“I thought the last 12, 10 minutes of the first period was really good,” Stamkos said. “We kind of weathered the storm (early), Vasi made some big saves and we played really well.”

Becoming the Lightning’s top power-play producer ever crept up on him, Stamkos acknowledged.

“These ones you don’t really know, to be honest, until they put it up on the scoreboard during the game and the guys start congratulating you,” the six-time All-Star said. “Obviously, the bigger milestones you’re aware of, but that one’s pretty cool.

“Like I said the other day, any time you’re up there with Marty and Vinny (Lecavalier) in the record books here in Tampa, that means you’ve been here a long time and fortunate enough to have a lot of success.”

Read More: RECAP: Yanni Gourde scores twice as Lightning top Predators

Defenseman Erik Cernak (upper-body injury) returned to the lineup after a two-game absence as Tampa Bay employed an 11-forward, seven-defenseman strategy.

After returning to Detroit following an 0-3-1 road trip, the Red Wings played well despite having only one point to show for it against the Florida Panthers in back-to-back games over the weekend.

They dropped a pair of 3-2 decisions to the Panthers, earning the single point in Saturday’s match after Florida’s Aleksi Heponiemi notched his first career goal 2:45 into overtime.

The power play continues to be a large hurdle in Hockeytown as the club has connected on only 4 of its 34 chances (11.8 percent), which ranked 25th in the league before Tuesday’s games.

“I actually thought the power play looked fairly good, but we’ve got to find ways to score,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said after Sunday’s loss. “You’ve got to find ways to win these close games.

“If you have those power plays consistently, you’re going to score.”

COVID-19 protocol has also been problematic, but Blashill said he expects the return of five players over the course of the week from the virus list.

Robby Fabbri and Adam Erne have played in only the first two games of the season and will return. Also, Sam Gagner and Jon Merrill could be available Wednesday. Filip Zadina might play in Friday’s contest.

Left wing Tyler Bertuzzi scored Saturday but left in the third period and didn’t play Sunday. Neither he nor goalie Jonathan Bernier — both out with upper-body injuries — practiced Tuesday.

–Field Level Media