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Monday, Oct 22, 2018
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Stamkos: Teams adjusting to hot top line

Nobody thought the Lightning's hot top line was going to keep up its historic pace all season.

Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov have a combined 90 points through the first 21 games, which is just over four points per game.

"They were on such a pace it was absurd," coach Jon Cooper said. "It was '80s hockey pace."

But the past two games, the Lightning top line has a combined two points. They were big ones, with Stamkos and Namestnikov assisting on Brayden Point's OT winner Wednesday.

But, clearly, the NHL has taken notice on the Lightning's dynamic trio, and is trying to take them out.

"Teams adjust, it's a long season," Stamkos said. "There's a ton of video, and things are going to have to improve on our end if we want to sustain that threat that we had. We still had some decent chances (Wednesday). You have to adjust, you have to make different plays, and I thought (Wednesday) it was definitely a little frustrating. But we'll have to get better. It's on us as players, myself included."

Kucherov hasn't had a point in the past two games, Wednesday just the fourth time this season he's been kept off the scoresheet. Now Kucherov has still been a factor, his unreal play on the sidewall sparking the game-winner Wednesday.

But clearly other teams, including the Capitals tonight and Pittsburgh Saturday, are going to try to make other lines beat them.

"Teams have come in here, they've given us their best shot," Cooper said. "When you're producing the way they're producing, there are really good coaches in this league, they're going to prescout, they're going to dig in and find out what can stop lines. You've got to fight through it."

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