Nick Perbix’s NHL star never shined brighter than over the weekend, but now the Lightning defenseman and his fellow blue-liners will be chasing a few of the league’s top superstars.
On Tuesday night in Tampa, the Lightning will host Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the Edmonton Oilers, one of the league’s highest-scoring squads.
In his ninth NHL game Saturday night, Perbix made his presence known late against the Buffalo Sabres by scoring his first career goal. That tally put the Lightning up 4-3 with 4:55 left, and they went on to a 5-3 victory.
The 24-year-old Minneapolis native hammered home a shot past Sabres goalie Eric Comrie, giving the former St. Cloud State standout his first goal and first game-winning tally in one swing.
“Pretty surreal, honestly,” Perbix said. “It’s something you always dream of, and for it to be a game-winner makes it that much sweeter. I just hopped on the ice, saw we had a rush and tried to make the most of it.”
Tampa Bay forward Nikita Kucherov is on quite a run, too. He has points in 10 straight games (six goals, 13 assists) and has found the net in six consecutive matches. The four-point outing against Buffalo was the 20th time he had at least four points in a game, setting a franchise record, as the Lightning improved to 4-0-1 in their past five games.
Linemate Brandon Hagel, who had a goal and two assists on Saturday, said he has to be on his toes when playing with the dynamic right winger.
“He’s a magician out there, so you never know what he’s going to do,” said Hagel, who also assisted on the tally by Perbix. “He’s such a skilled player that you have to be ready at all times.”
The Lightning have won the past nine meetings between the teams in Tampa. Edmonton’s last win by the bay was a 3-2 outcome on Dec. 9, 2009, when McDavid was just 12 years old.
In the Oilers’ 5-4 loss at Washington on Monday, Edmonton opened its four-game Eastern Conference road trip by getting caught up in a wild, five-goal second period and couldn’t keep up with the Capitals.
After winning five straight games from Oct. 24-Nov. 1, Edmonton has now lost three in a row. The Oilers succumbed to Alex Ovechkin and Co. because of a penalty-kill unit that allowed four goals on five power plays.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins netted twice, and McDavid and Draisaitl each had a goal and an assist, but the poor performance while short-handed was too much to overcome.
McDavid racked up his 724th point while playing in his 500th NHL game on Monday. That is the sixth-most points at the milestone, trailing just Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky (1,186), Mario Lemieux (971), Peter Stastny (759), Mike Bossy (757) and Jari Kurri (730).
“His work on the ice speaks for itself,” teammate Zach Hyman said. “Playing against him, I got firsthand experience at that … and being his teammate you kind of see how much work goes into being the player that he is and the person that he is. He’s got the talent, but the work ethic is matched as well.”
Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner started against the Capitals and made 26 saves, but he fell to 2-3-0. On the second night of a back-to-back in Tampa, Jack Campbell (5-3-0) should be back in the crease.
Dating back to January 2015, Tampa Bay holds a 9-2-1 mark against Edmonton with all three losses coming in Canada.
–Field Level Media