Lightning ride Paquette’s first hat trick to Atlantic lead

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The Tampa Bay Lightning boast such an array of young forwards that Cedric Paquette doesn’t usually come to mind.

He made enough of an impression with his first career hat trick that he may be on the tip of more tongues, however. If nothing else, he probably won’t be anonymous to the Detroit Red Wings.

The first goal came about two minutes into the contest:

The second came in the waning moments of the first period:

Finally, he netted a hat trick showing great patience on this shorthanded odd-man rush:

It wasn’t just his first hat trick … it was also his first goal in quite some time.

Update: The Lightning ended up scoring another goal to beat the Red Wings 5-1. The Montreal Canadiens won their game against the New York Rangers, making the top of the Atlantic Division quite the battle:

Lightning: 66 points, 31 wins, 29 regulation/OT wins in 50 games played
Canadiens: 65 points, 31 wins, 26 ROW in 47 GP
Red Wings: 65 points, 28 wins, 26 ROW in 49 GP

After playing the Blue Jackets in Tampa Bay on Saturday, the Lightning will enter a challenging February. They play every game against (mostly) tough Western Conference opponents with many of those games coming on the road.

That won’t be easy, but so far, the Lightning have passed most of their tests on the road to becoming a legitimate Eastern contender.