Tampa Bay Lightning center Blake Coleman (20) celebrates his goal with Tyler Johnson during overtime of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Detroit. Tampa Bay won 4-3. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Secondary scoring proves to be pivotal for the top NHL teams

Secondary scoring proves to be pivotal for the top NHL teams

The Tampa Bay Lightning hoisted the Stanley Cup last year, leaning on their top line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat to produce nearly 40% of their points during the post-season run.

Tampa Bay is now winning a different way, nearing the midway point of the 56-game, pandemic-shortened season.

The defending champions are off to the best start in franchise history because they have so much more balance on offence even with Kucherov, their leading scorer the previous five seasons, out for the season after having hip surgery.

“The secondary scoring on this team has been a big part of our success,” Lightning coach John Cooper said Tuesday. “But in the end, your best players have to be your best players.”

NHL coaches try to match their No. 1 lines against the top trio of forwards and those stars push one another at both ends of the ice. The best teams keep up the pressure by rolling multiple lines that can score and by having offensive-minded defencemen who can set up goals or light the lamp themselves.

Tampa Bay, the New York Islanders, Vegas and Toronto led their divisions at the beginning of the week, in part because their secondary scoring is a strength. Carolina, Florida, Washington, Minnesota, Edmonton and Winnipeg are among the teams that have been successful so far because they rely on more than their No. 1 line to produce points.

The Oilers have had 20 players score, giving teams more than just Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to worry about.

“We know that Connor and Leon are going to drive some offence, but to be a good team we need to have that throughout our lineup and not just chipping in but we need consistency in that part,” Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said.

The Islanders were the first team in the league this season to have five players, including the four that centre each line, score at least nine times. They also have a trio of defencemen with at least 10 points.

“Sometimes in this league, the top lines sort of nullify each other out,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “It’s what the rest of the lineup does, and the rest of the lineup can make a difference.”

Maple Leaf stars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are among the NHL’s scoring leaders, but their team didn’t start the week leading the league in points because of just the dynamic duo.

With the luxury of having a star such as John Tavares playing on the second line and third-line wing Zach Hyman capable of scoring and setting up goals, Toronto may finally get to celebrate winning a Stanley Cup title for the first time since 1967.

“Having great depth is something championship teams have and being able to provide scoring throughout the lineup,” Hyman said. “It also helps with team morale and chemistry when everyone feels like they’re contributing. It’s always fun to score.”


The Western Conference-champion Dallas Stars got off to a rough start this season that started with a COVID-19 outbreak that led to postponements. All-Star centre Tyler Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop are also recovering from off-season surgeries.

After routing Chicago 6-1, Dallas has now won two of three by a combined 11-1 after dropping four straight games. Stars coach Rick Bowness insisted he likes his team’s chances to bounce back, especially if they can play more 5-on-5 hockey by avoiding penalties.

“I’m happy with our team game even though the record doesn’t reflect that,” Bowness said.


Calgary, coming off consecutive post-season appearances for the first time in a decade, became the second NHL team to fire a coach this season. The Flames fired coach Geoff Ward last week and replaced him with Darryl Sutter, who is leading the team for the second time.

“We want to get out of this funk we’re in and push to get back in the playoffs,” forward Johnny Gaudreau said.


The NHL’s COVID-19 protocols kept just three players off the ice Tuesday night: Edmonton’s Kyle Turris, Nashville’s Erik Haula and San Jose’s Marcus Sorensen.


Vegas visits St. Louis for back-to-back games Friday and Saturday in a clash of the top two teams in the West Division.

LEADERS (through Monday)

Goals: Auston Matthews (Toronto), 18; Assists: Connor McDavid (Edmonton), 30; Points: McDavid, 45; Ice Time: Brent Burns (San Jose), 27:05; Wins: Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay), 15; Goals-Against Average: Petr Mrazek (Carolina), 0.99; Save Percentage: Mrazek, .954.


Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/larrylage


AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno and AP Sports Writer Vin Cherwoo contributed.


More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Larry Lage, The Associated Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Jason Kenney announced $200 million more money that will benefit seniors living in continuing care on Wednesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program expanding

Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program will expand to as many as… Continue reading

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Cowboy Kicks, originally scheduled for May 5, will now take place Sept. 18. (Contributed photo)
Westerner Park’s Cowboy Kicks fundraiser moved to Sept. 18

A major fundraiser for Westerner Park and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell tries to tip a point shot past Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Car Tetachuk in WHL action Friday night at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels struggles continue, drop seventh straight to Hurricanes

Hurricanes score three power-play goals in 6-3 win

Downtown Red Deer patio restaurants have been busy this summer. Contributed photo
City of Red Deer expediting patio application process for restaurants

The City of Red Deer is allowing businesses to install patios prior… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Ediburgh, left, look on as Manitoba Beaver peaks out of his box at a July 14, 1970 ceremony in which Hudson's Bay Company observed an old tradition. The death of Prince Philip has reminded a small French village in Manitoban about how a royal visit half a century ago made the community the centre of frog racing in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Prince Philip’s frog-jumping legacy in a Manitoba French community

WINNIPEG — The death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has reminded… Continue reading

The Yukon provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for Canada's fourth election held during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon residents set to vote in fourth election held in Canada during pandemic

WHITEHORSE — Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole, former PM Harper speak on ‘build back right’ for pandemic recovery

OTTAWA — Top Tory leaders of the past and present will speak… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday, March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals set to debate universal basic income, pharmacare, OAS hike

OTTAWA — Grassroots Liberals have taken up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call… Continue reading

Students enter the Pierre Laporte Secondary School as secondary school students return to class full time during the COVID-19 pandemic in Montreal, Monday, March 29, 2021. Pandemic-fuelled frustration has some teens expressing anger in unhealthy ways after a year of missed social connections that would typically help them mature and regulate their emotions, says a psychiatrist calling for more education on coping skills as part of the school curriculum. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Teach students coping skills to deal with anger, including during pandemic: doctor

Pandemic-fuelled frustration has some teens expressing anger in unhealthy ways after a… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

jobs - T - 3-6-2020
Finding a job: 3 job search truisms you need to accept

A job search has many moving parts; your mindset is the most… Continue reading

Most Read