The Tampa Bay Lightning may not have captain Steven Stamkos for their first-round playoff series, but they will have home-ice advantage as they clinched second place in the Atlantic Division with a 4-2 road victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
Jonathan Drouin scored the winning goal in his first game with Tampa Bay since December 30 while Valtteri Filppula recorded a tally and an assist for the Lightning, who will host either the Detroit Red Wings or Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
Stamkos will miss at least one month after undergoing surgery to treat a blood clot – a procedure that reportedly required the removal of a rib. The 26-year-old, who has sat out the team’s last four games, will finish the season as Tampa Bay’s leader in goals with 36.
The Lightning also will be without Anton Stralman for their first-round series as the defenseman recovers from a fractured fibula. Ryan Callahan and blue-liner Victor Hedman also are ailing, with the former battling a lower-body issue and the latter suffering from an upper-body injury.
Tampa Bay split its four-game season series with Detroit, with each club winning twice at home. The Lightning also split their series with the Bruins as the road team won each contest.