Bolts finish with a bang with comeback over Bruins

by Gary Shelton on April 7, 2019 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Kucherov had a goal and an assist in victory./CHUCK MULLER

Sunday, 4 a.m.

Take a minute. Smile. Let the season pour over you.

True, there is bigger game to be hunted. But don’t think about that right now. Think of your Tampa Bay Lightning celebrating once again. Seize the moment. Celebrate.

The Lightning wrapped up their sweetest regular season Saturday. Another win. Another comeback. Another goal by Nikita Kucherov. Another one by Steven Stamkos.

And now comes the post-season.

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Stamkos finished with 98 points./JEFFREY S. KING

“The step from game 82 to game 83, it’s not a step, it’s a leap,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “We’ve been through this before, so we’re a little bit schooled in it. But your intensity, everything that’s involved is amped up so much. These last couple games here, you see the games, they kind of tune up a little bit in the third period when it’s close, but nothing like what we’ll see all around the league on Wednesday.”

It all added up to the team’s 62nd win of the season, 4-3 over the Boston Bruins. That tied the Detroit Red for the most in NHL history. The Bolts’ 128 points is the fourth most in league history.

Also finishing with 128 points was Nikita Kucherov, who had his 41st goal and his 87th assist, the most all-time for a winger.

“The dominos sure fell there in the third period,” Cooper said. “A lot of guys, I think on both teams, had things on the line. I would consider this the ultimate team sport, but when you get to this time of the year, guys have worked all year to have a couple milestones. Stammer set his career high in points. Kuch, I think if you saw our bench and all the support there was for everybody to get that. We know how much he’s meant to our team and how much it meant to him. I just couldn’t be happier for him. You think about everything that’s gone on with our team, you’ve got to credit our players on 62, a number that’s only been touched once. For a team that’s been kind of locked into a playoff spot for quite some time, to be able to bring it every single night, they all haven’t been great, but to continue to find a way and to get to that number, it’s a credit to the players, staff, trainers, equipment guys, unreal job.”

Said Kucherov: “Definitely a special moment for me. Thanks to everybody in the room and thanks for the guys helping me out. Without them, definitely wouldn’t be where I am right now. It’s a team effort. Everybody’s involved in my success. Everybody’s pushing each other. It’s been a fun year.”

Kucherov’s teammates were impressed by his season.

“He’s got the D man all over him, and he just kind of seems to find a way to sneak it by the goalie,” Ryan McDonagh said. “Such a smart player, obviously, a gifted player. Again, just wants to be an impact player every night. He’s been so consistent for us. It’s great to see him have all the successes. He’s really earned it for sure.”

Stamkos scored his 45th goal of the season in the victory. He had a career-high of 98 points during the season. Anthony Cirelli scored his 19th goal, Tyler Johnson scored his 29th and Erik Cernak scored the first power-play goal of his career. Braydon Coburn also scored.

But the most impressive number was 62. Before this year, the Lightning’s record for wins in a season was 54.

“It’s a great sign we’ve been consistent and finding ways to win and again tonight, down two,” McDonagh said. “It wasn’t a great first period for us. We simplified things. Eddie gave us a chance throughout the whole game. It feels good right now, and the consistency and confidence in our team should help us going into what we’ve got next.

“I think it helps too when you’ve got a similar group. We didn’t have too much of a change with our roster, so in that aspect, you’ve got guys that remember that feeling and remember what we didn’t do. We want to be better this time. At the end of the day, it’s going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of hard battles. I think we’ve got a group that’s really committed to finding a way to come out on top. It’s going to be a lot of fun and looking forward to it.”

For now, however, just relax. Reflect. Enjoy.

Tomorrow, you can start to worry.

 

 

 

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

WILLIAM MYERS April 7, 2019 at 9:46 am

Ok! Huge season to be proud of for sure! So relax but not too much…”Get ready to rumble” guys cause it ain’t over yet! I’m gonna dust off that “We Believe” t-shirt! GO BOLTS… all the way to the Cup!

Reply

Gary Shelton April 7, 2019 at 8:27 pm

I am sure you will do your part. I, however, am a liability.

Reply

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