Kucherov shines in Bolts’ victory

by Gary Shelton on February 26, 2024

in general

Kucherov has 7 points in two games./TIM WIRT

Monday, 4 a.m.

The Nikita Kucherov Show aired another episode Sunday afternoon. Like many others, this one had high rankings.

Kucherov, the leading scorer in the NHL, led the Lighting to its second straight win, a 4-1 decision over the New Jersey Devils. Kucherov had four points, a goal and three assists, to lead the decisive victory.

By now, it is clear that if the Lightning make the post-season, Kucherov will lead them there. He has his 102 points in 59 games. His career high is 128 in 2018-19, the year he won the Hart and the Ross Trophies.




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It was the team’s second straight win after a three-game slump. Kucherov stretched his league-leading points total to 102 on the season, the fourth time he’s passed 100 points in his career.

Kucherov wasn’t the only star, however. The Bolts dominated play in the third period, allowing the Devils only three shots even though the team had two power play chances (and got off only one shot during the four minutes).

Kucherov had an assist on goals by Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Brandon Hagel before finishing things off with an empty netter. It was Hedman’s 10th goal of the season, Point’s 30th and Hagel’s  22nd.

Goaltender Jonas Johansson stopped 18 of 19 shots.

Tampa Bay plays at Philadelphia on Tuesday night (7 p.m.).

Bolts hang on to snap losing streak

by Gary Shelton on February 25, 2024

in general

Kucherov continues to lead NHL in points./TIM WIRT

Sunday, 4 a.m.

In the end, it was a narrow, hang-on-by-the-fingernails victory.

Still, the way things had been going for the Tampa Bay Lightning, any width at all is gratifying.

The Lightning snapped a three-game fall Saturday, holding on to beat the New York Islanders 4-2. It stopped a slump that had seen the Bolts move to the second wild-card position, and that was with extra games over their main competitors.




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The Bolts had a healthy 3-0 lead after two periods, but the Isles came back to within a goal in the final six-and-a- half minutes with goalie Ilya Sorokin pulled. The thoughts of a comeback failed, however, when Luke Glendening scored an empty netter for Tampa Bay with 30 seconds to play.

In building their lead, the Bolts got goals from Nicholas Paul, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. Kucherov also had two assists to increase his league-leading total to 98 points. It’s five points more than Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had given up 14 goals ins previous three games, had 32 saves.

The Bolts, however, gave the Islanders five power play opportunities in the last two periods. That wasn’t pleasing to coach Jon Cooper.

“I thought we played pretty well,” he said. We took too many penalties and it cost us. We can’t take penalties like that. That was dumb.”

The Bolts play again today at 1 p.m. against the New Jersey Devils.

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Bolts’ slide continues in loss to Caps

by Gary Shelton on February 23, 2024

in general

Tyler Motte tied the game./TIM WIRT

Friday, 4 a.m.

And there, in the passing lane, goes the NHL playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, suddenly, is in danger of getting left behind.

The Bolts lost their third straight home game Thursday night, falling to the low-scoring Washington Capitals, 5-3. Bolts’ goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, often the reason for the Bolts’ winning, has now allowed 14 goals in the three games (eight periods of play).




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Paul scored his 15th goal./TIM WIRT

It was a loss with some sting for the Bolts. At a time of year when every point in crucial, the Lightning has failed to pick up a point in three straight home games.

The Lightning, which had been playing well before the All-Star break, came from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game  in the third period with a pair of goals in a 24-second span. The Lightning then got a break when the Caps’ go-ahead goal was negated by off-sides.

Nicholas Paul and Tyler Motte scored in the third period to tie the game. Brandon Hagel had scored earlier.

However, the Caps came back to score with 4:59 to play on a shot by Rasmus Sandin. Connor McMichael scored his second goal of the night on an empty netter for the final margin.

“Our guys competed hard," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "Did we do some dumb things,? We did. It doesn’t take away from the fact we competed hard. The bottom line is ... did we have a chance to win the game? We certainly did. Did we put ourselves in that position to win? We did. You fall behind and it's a tough league to come back in. 

"It's a tie game with five minutes to go at home and you don’t get any points out of it. That’s a tough pill to swallow.  I thought the guys deserved a little better fate than we got tonight, The bottom line is we gave up four goals. It’s really hard to win in this league giving up that many.

The Detroit Red Wings passed Tampa Bay and moved into fourth place in the Atlantic Division.

The Bolts play the New York Islanders on the road on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m

Lightning loses again on home ice

by Gary Shelton on February 20, 2024

in general

Point scored his 28th goal./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

This was supposed to be the response game, the bounce back game, the statement game.

Well, oops.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, hoping to erase a disappointing loss on Saturday night, did just the opposite. They lost 4-2 to the Ottawa Senators, the last-place team of the Atlantic Division. It was the second straight home loss after the 9-2 shellacking it absorbed two nights earlier.




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Former Lightning player Mathieu Joseph scored two goals. Ottawa goaltender Anton Forsberg had 23 saves.

For the Bolts, only Mitchell Chaffee (his second) and Brayden Point (his 28th) scored goals. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 of 28 shots.

Suddenly, the once-hot Lightning seem to be struggling. They are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, but they have played more games than Detroit and New Jersey, both of whom are right behind them.

“I thought we responded well for nine minutes and 15 seconds,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “We spent the first 10 minutes in their end and had a bunch of moments that raised the heart rate and didn’t go in. After they got the first one, we were just flat, We just didn’t quite get it back. That was the disappointing part. There was a ton of game left. We were just flat with no emotions.

.“You can’t get this (loss) back. Everyone around you won today and you didn’t. We can’t be doing that win-one, lose-one win  or win-two, lose-two. That’s not going to get it done for us. We just gave them their opportunities.”

 The Bolts will try to end their losing streak Thursday night at Amalie Arena when they host the Washington Capitals at 7 p.m.

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