The Cory Conacher story just continues to get better.
The undrafted rookie continued his hot start to the season, collecting two more goals and an assist to lead the Tampa Bay Lighting to an 8-3 rout of the Winnipeg Jets Friday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It was the fifth straight victory for the Lightning, who also lead the NHL in goals scored with 37.
The game got off to a quick start for the Lightning. After killing off the first shorthanded situation early in the period, the Lightning would get the offense going in this one, and never look back. The Jets helped the Lightning, getting into penalty trouble early in the first period, including Chris Thorburn taking a five minute major and defenseman Ron Hainsey and Mark Stuart both taking minor penalties, giving the Lightning an extended 5-3 power play. The Lightning would cash in on the opportunities, getting goals from Cory Conacher, Steven Stamkos, and Vincent Lecavalier.
The Lightning would keep scoring in the second period, getting goals from Conacher, his second on the night, Nate Thompson, and Teddy Purcell, to give the Bolts a 6-0 lead.
In the third, Ryan Malone and Benoit Pouliot added goals to cap off the 8-3 game.
The story in this game though, would be the continued growth of Cory Conacher. The start he has had was not predicted by many, and it is a start he hopes he can continue to build on.
With Conacher’s fifth goal of the season tonight, it tied him with Steven Stamkos, something he never thought he would see.
“Nope, nope,” Conacher said when asked if he ever thought he would be tied with Stamkos in goals scored. “Maybe after the first game if we didn’t both score. He’s a guy I have looked up to the past couple years. Just to be in the same locker room with him is incredible. Hopefully both of us can keep scoring and keep winning and that’s important. I would rather win than score goals, it’s nice that we are getting these wins at home and we have to finish it off tomorrow night.”
Lightning coach Guy Boucher said that he was not surprised how Conacher has played in the early going this season.
“No,” Boucher said when asked if he was surprised by Conacher. “You don’t know how many points he is going to get, but his play, no. That’s what I thought we were going to get. It’s just great to see he is being consistent at it. Maybe the consistency is the thing that may be the surprise, but I am not that surprised, to be honest with you. He got to be very consistent after Christmas last year in the American League. I saw him in the playoffs play a very high caliber of hockey. Usually when you look at guys in the American League, if you want to evaluate them and see how close they are to the NHL, you watch the playoffs. He was great in the playoffs, we pretty much had a good feeling he could do this this year. “
The home stand wraps up tomorrow night when the Lightning get a visit from the New York Rangers. Puck drop in that one is at 7:30.