Kucherov, Stamkos shine as Bolts beat Oilers

by Gary Shelton on November 7, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Kucherov scored two goals for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

These are the nights that allow you to dream. These are the games, when the offense is humming, when the defense is solid, when the goaltender is terrific, that let you shut your eyes and imagine this team in the playoffs.

Yeah, it's early. True, there is a season's worth of bumps and bruises and slumps and injuries and bad ice.

On the other hand, when they are flying the way they did on Tuesday night, you can barely wait for the post-season to start.

Evidently, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are in a hurry to get the playoffs, too.

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Vasilevskiy stopped 33 shots by the Oilers./JEFFREY S. KING

The Bolts played host to a very good  Edmonton team Tuesday night, and with visiting star Connor McDavid, winning of the Hart Trophy fin 2017, the threat was obvious.

Still, the Lightning's own stars showed up. Kucherov and Stamkos combined for three goals and three assists, and when they are rolling, the Bolts are rolling. Kucherov scored twice, and now has four goals in the last five games. Captain Steven Stamkos scored the first goal, which was also his fourth in five games.

Brayden Point scored his ninth goal of the year. Yanni Gourde scored his third goal in three games since signing a contract extension.

Ryan McDonagh played well on defense, helping hold McDavid without a

Stamkos ignited the Bolts' offense./CARMEN MANDATO

point for only the second time this season, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 33 of 35 shots.  Vasilevskiy has given up two or fewer goals in eight of his 11 games this season.

“When you get the scoring through the lineup, it’s just a confidence builder for the players that are used to scoring and they’re feeling good about themselves," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Everybody’s kind of chipping in in the way you need, in the way the team’s built. When everyone is feeling good about themselves whether it’s the penalty kill guys or whatever, it’s just a good recipe and that’s what’s been happening.”

Kucherov and Stamkos are playing well together. Together, they had three goals and three assists against the Oilers.

:At the beginning of the season, they didn’t start as strong together as they are playing now," Cooper said. "We put the players in the positions where it’s going to give ourselves team success, and sometimes they’re together and sometimes they’re not. Right now they’re together, and they’re doing really well. There’s a good chance they’ll be together on Thursday.”

Stamkos said the two are aware of each other on the ice.

“We always just try to create room for each other out there, whether it’s trying to two-on-one someone or give-or-go," Stamkos said. "Obviously we’ve developed that chemistry, and it was nice to have a couple nice plays tonight and contribute to another win.”

Said Kucherov: “Just pass to each other, look for each other, get open for each other. That’s important to this game, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Vasilevskiy has now won five of his last six games.

"Their goaltender was tremendous," Edmonton coach Todd McLellan said. "He made numerous saves on the power play. That’s the best our power play has looked, and we moved the puck around. Sometimes you run into a hot goaltender. You have to tip your hat to the saves he made because if we do get back into it there, maybe it’s a different game.”

The Bolts are home on Thursday night against the New York Islanders. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.



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