Thundering To The All-Star Break: Tampa Bay Lightning Win Fifth Straight

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIJanuary 26, 2011

Dwayne Roloson has been key in the Lightning's hot streak
Dwayne Roloson has been key in the Lightning's hot streakJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

For the Tampa Bay Lightning, the All-Star break comes with good and bad feelings.

For a road weary club, the five day respite from the brutality of NHL competition is a welcome relief.

Yet in some ways, Tampa Bay doesn't want to stop playing hockey.

With the 2-0 shutout of the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, the Lightning won their fifth straight and their 10th of the last 14 games.

Sniper Steven Stamkos has taken over the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy (leading goal scorer in a season) and remains just a point behind the injured Sidney Crosby for the Art Ross (leading point producer).

Goalie Dwayne Roloson registered his third shutout in 10 games since joining the Lightning.

The Lightning have been particularly deadly in games decided by one goal, where Tampa Bay has amassed a 17-3-5 record with a 5-2 record in shootouts (including five straight shootout wins).

Making the plays in close games has been the difference in this year's squad.

"Everything we've gotten up to now," Head coach Guy Boucher told the St. Pete Times, "we've gotten because we've worked hard.

It's enabled the Lightning to build the third most points in the NHL (67), take over sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division and lead the NHL in overtime victories with 11.

The Lightning, who are 16-4-2 at home, will also get a break from their tough schedule, playing most of the month of February on home ice.

"I think right now, we just want to focus on getting a break, mentally and physically get away from the game, then come back and be refreshed for whatever happens,'' Roloson told reporters after the Toronto game, "We can't get too far ahead of ourselves, we just have to focus on what it is we need to do and that's win hockey games. It doesn't matter what we have done so far, we just have to focus on what we have to do game by game.''

What they've done is turned a young team that has been left out of the playoffs for the last 3 years to one that is a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup.

The Lightning are on pace to surpass the team record of 106 points by the Stanley Cup Champion squad in '04.

With the leadership of Guy Boucher and the brilliance of GM Steve Yzerman, the Lightning may bring Stanley back for another sunburn.