Stars keep shining for the Tampa Bay Lightning

by Gary Shelton on October 27, 2017 · 2 comments

in general

Steven Stamkos passes the puck./STEVEN MUNCIE

Steven Stamkos passes the puck./STEVEN MUNCIE

Friday, 4 a.m.

The hardest thing the Tampa Bay Lightning goes through these days are at the conclusion of the game. That's when it's time to name the three stars.

So who do you pick? Steven Stamkos, who leads the NHL in scoring?

Or Nikita Kucherov, who leads the NHL in goals?

Or Andrei Vasilevskiy, who leads the NHL in wins?

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Zetterburg lands on Nikita Kucherov's stick./STEVEN MUNCIE

Zetterburg lands on Nikita Kucherov's stick./STEVEN MUNCIE

Together, those three can take over a game, as they did Thursday night in a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Wings. Stamkos scored a goal. Kucherov scored a goal. Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 shots.

But there were other candidates, too.

Brayden Point celebrates after scoring./STEVEN MUNCIE

Brayden Point celebrates after scoring./STEVEN MUNCIE

How about Brayden Point, who scored the winning goal?

How about Victor Hedman, the all-star defenseman, who had an assist?

How about the league's top-rated power play, which scored two goals?

Yeah, the praise keeps rolling in for the Lightning, which improved to 9-1-1 on the season. The Lightning has won four straight games and pointed in nine straight games. It is the best start in franchise history.

With this team, however, you start the accolades with Kucherov and Stamkos, who have started like a pair of fists on a heavyweight boxer.

“What's it like?” Cooper said, repeating a question. “It's a huge benefit. I really enjoy it.

Victor Hedman had an assist for Bolts./STEVEN MUNCIE

Victor Hedman had an assist for Bolts./STEVEN MUNCIE

They're exceptional players. I truly believe that whatever the sport is, you have to have those exceptional players. It's a team sport, but you have to have those guys. Those are two who rise to the top.

"That word chemistry is thrown around a lot, but when guys have it, they have those offensive instincts. You can structure things for teams to do, but, ultimately, plays are made at a high rate of speed under pressure with guys on, you got to be able to instinctively make those plays and those guys seem to find each other.”

For Kucherov, it was his 12th goal. Stamkos, who has been more of a playmaker this year, added a goal and an assist.

Kuch did a good job on selling the shot and faking it,” Stamkos said. “Teams are going to have to decide who they want to overplay. Tonight they over played him and I got an open net off a great pass.”

Said Vasilevskiy: you don’t want to see them in a game. They are the two best players in the NHL right now. But our defense has been great too. It’s more about the team, not just two guys.”

Mikhail Sergachev after getting into a one way fight with Mantha./STEVEN MUNCIE

Mikhail Sergachev after getting into a one way fight with Mantha./STEVEN MUNCIE

You don't have to convince Red Wings' goalie Jimmy Howard: “That’s two superstars out there. They have great chemistry, we all know that. It’s no surprise, they are great players.”

The Bolts built a 3-1 lead on a goal by Brayden Point.

Vasilevskiy won his eighth straight game.

"It’s no surprise for us,” Stamkos said. “We are winning as a team right now. Guys are stepping up, special teams are stepping up. Our goaltender has been phenomenal for us. There’s a reason why when things are clicking like that we have the record that we have. There’s still room for improvement, but I thought tonight was a pretty solid game.”

Vasilevski has given up only six goals in his last five starts.

The Bolts are home Saturday night against Anaheim. The game begins at 7 p.m.

Jake Dotchin puts a Red Wings player into the glass./STEVEN MUNCIE

Jake Dotchin puts a Red Wings player into the glass./STEVEN MUNCIE

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill MYERS October 28, 2017 at 8:50 am

I am really thankful this season for a Lightning team that looks and acts like winners! It is a long season I know and it is early, but you can’t help but start to think of a solid run for Lord Stanley’s Cup for these stars. GO BOLTS!

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Gary Shelton October 28, 2017 at 9:22 am

Yes. They’ll hit a bad streak. It always happens. But they’ve given themselves the power to withstand that. They’re very talented and very smart.

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