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Power Rankings: Lightning lead the pack with coast-to-coast success

The Tampa Bay Lightning asserted their NHL dominance by downing the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues.

There are a lot of things to like about the Tampa Bay Lightning’s season in 2017-18. But one that has gone under the radar has been their absolute domination of Western Conference teams this season.

In a game that pitted the Lightning against the points leader in the Western Conference Tuesday night, the Lightning whipped the St. Louis Blues 3-0 on home ice. It was Tampa’s second victory this season against St. Louis and gave them a mind-boggling 10-1-0 record against teams in the Western Conference. With their next three games on the road against Pacific Division teams starting Thursday night in Arizona, the Lightning will have a chance to build on their record.

Oh yes, and they’ve won five in a row and six of their past seven, which catapults them back to the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)

THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (3)
2. Los Angeles Kings (1)
3. Nashville Predators (2)
4. Vegas Golden Knights (6)
5. Washington Capitals (5)
6. New York Islanders (11)
7. St. Louis Blues (14)
8. Minnesota Wild (20)
9. Chicago Blackhawks (23)
10. Philadelphia Flyers (27)

 

Just what the Lightning need, another hot scorer. Brayden Point has 4-3-7 totals in his past five games…Marian Gaborik of the Kings will play his 1,000th career win Friday night against the Rangers…Defenseman Ryan Ellis has begun to practice teammates, but isn’t expected to make his season debut from knee surgery for a couple of weeks…Marc-Andre Fleury made his return to the Golden Knights’ net in their shootout loss to Carolina Tuesday night…If Alex Ovechkin keeps scoring at this pace, he’ll pass Bobby Hull in career goals before this season ends…The Islanders have yet to sell out the Barclays Center this season, but they’re 9-1-2 at home…The injury bug has hit the red-hot Blues, with Jaden Schwartz, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester out of the lineup…Wild Goalie Devan Dubnyk left the game with a lower-body injury in the 2-1 shootout win over Calgary last night…The Blackhawks are beating bad teams, but at least they’re winning for a change…The Flyers ended a six-game losing streak at home with their win over Toronto Tuesday night.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Winnipeg Jets (8)
12. New Jersey Devils (7)
13. Boston Bruins (17)
14. Toronto Maple Leafs (12)
15. Calgary Flames (22)
16. San Jose Sharks (19)
17. New York Rangers (4)
18. Columbus Blue Jackets (16)
19. Pittsburgh Penguins (13)
20. Dallas Stars (9)

The Jets won their first game without Dustin Byfuglien, who is out with a lower-body injury until at least after Christmas. That means there’s a good chance Byfuglien could go into the 2018 part of the 2017-18 season without a goal…After scoring two goals in the game, Taylor Hall left the Devils’ 5-1 win over the Kings in the third period as the result of a big hit from Kurtis MacDermid…The Bruins’ goaltending controversy is over. Tuukka Rask has won his past four starts and given up five goals in those games…So Mike Babcock doesn’t know whether Auston Matthews went for concussion protocol after colliding with teammate Morgan Rielly Saturday night? Well, OK… Sean Monahan of the Flames already has nine career overtime goals, more than any other active NHLer…After scoring just one goal in his first 28 games, defending Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns has three goals and six points in his past three games…The Rangers, who had the best road record in the league last season at 27-12-2, are just 4-6-0 away from Madison Square Garden this season…John Tortorella set what is believed to be a an NHL record when he held a 13-second post-game news conference after his Blue Jackets lost 7-2 to Edmonton on home ice Tuesday night…The Penguins started a five-game homestand in early December riding a three-game winning streak. But then they went 2-3-0 on home ice and their season of stops and starts continues…The Stars were lower than a snake’s belly, then went into New York and beat the Rangers 2-1 in a shootout Monday night. They’ll try to continue their momentum tonight in Brooklyn, which has become one of the league’s toughest buildings for opponents to get victories.

READ ALSO:  Ryder scores 2 power-play goals, Canadiens top Panthers 5-2

 

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Anaheim Ducks (25)
22. Edmonton Oilers (18)
23. Montreal Canadiens (15)
24. Carolina Hurricanes (30)
25. Buffalo Sabres (28)
26. Colorado Avalanche (31)
27. Florida Panthers (21)
28. Vancouver Canucks (10)
29. Detroit Red Wings (26)
30. Ottawa Senators (29)
31. Arizona Coyotes (24)

The same game in which Ryan Getzlaf came back from a five-week absence with a facial fracture the Ducks lost Corey Perry on a “week-to-week” basis with a lower-body injury in Monday night’s win over Carolina…Oilers goalie Cam Talbot said Tuesday he hopes to be back in the lineup in, “less than a week,” meaning he could get a game or two in before the Christmas break…Defenseman Shea Weber has played four games since returning from injury Dec. 2, but hasn’t participated in a practice or a morning skate. Coach Claude Julien said shutting him down is not being considered at the moment…Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward picked up his 300th career win in Carolina’s 2-1 shootout win over Vegas Tuesday night. He has also clearly outplayed Scott Darling, who was brought in to be the starter this season…With their 3-2 win over Ottawa Tuesday night, the Sabres have picked up points in four straight games for the first time this season…Impressive rookie Alex Kerfoot has been seen in a walking boot, but the Avs say he’s out only day-to-day with a foot injury…Vincent Trocheck, the Panthers most consistent scorer and best player this season, has a six-game point streak with 3-6-9 totals in that span. He’s also on pace for 84 points this season… The Canucks’ depth is going to be tested big-time. With Bo Horvat already out long-term with a broken foot, Sven Baertschi will miss the next six-to-eight weeks with a broken jaw…After sitting out a 10-game suspension, Wings defenseman Luke Witkowski had 4:28 in ice time and fought twice in Detroit’s 2-1 overtime loss to Florida Monday night. Atta boy…Aside from a 1-5-1 road trip and rumors swirling around their best player, everything is going A-OK for the Senators these days…Once a shoo-in for the Calder Trophy, Coyotes rookie Clayton Keller has cooled off in a big way. He hasn’t scored a goal in 17 games and has just six assists in that time frame.

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