Dynamic duo leads Lightning to easy victory

by Gary Shelton on December 4, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Kucherov is third in the NHL in points./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

Starskey had Hutch.

Batman had Robin. Sherlock had Watson. The Lone Ranger had Tonto.

Sometimes, greatness keeps company. It's that way in hockey, too, and with the Tampa  Bay Lightning, who can now throw Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov onto the same patch of ice.

It paid off again Monday night, as the Lightning walloped New Jersey, 5-1. Say this for the Devils; they're probably glad to see the Bolts get the hell out of town. In three wins this year, Tampa Bay has scored 18 goals on New Jersey.

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Point is second in the NHL in goals./CARMEN MANDATO

This time, it was Kucherov and Point who led the way. Each player had a goal, and Kucherov had four points on the night. Point had three. Together, the two are well on their way to replacing Steven Stamkos and Kucherov as the leaders of the Lightning attack.

“They’re playing well," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "(Tyler) Johnson’s part of that as well. They’re just always around it and doing all the right things. And then top it off with the skill and compete and all that. Just as a group, they’re playing well and they’re being rewarded for it.”

Kucherov is now third in the league with 42 points; Point is fifth with 37. Point is second and Kucherov 23rd in goal scoring.

Kucherov on Point: “He’s a speedy player, and it’s a lot of fun to play with him. You always know he can go around guys and you just have to find the open area and get in there and he’s going to feed you.”

Point on Kucherov: "I think the more we play, the more we’re getting comfortable. I’ve said it before but he’s such a talented player. I’m just trying to find spots for him. He’s so good with the puck and he can find you in such good spots that he’s really fun to play with. I’m just trying to get to the holes for him and trying to get the space for him.”

Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde and Stamkos also scored for the Bolts.

Stamkos talked about the team's depth.

"You look at some of the guys that have been added, some of the young guys, look at Joseph, look at Cirelli, the way Gourdo’s come and Millsy, Palat’s just coming back now too, Kuch and Pointer and what they’ve been able to do," Stamkos said. "We’ve got a really deep team, and I think that creates a lot of matchup problems for other teams. When you can have the special teams going like we have this year to go along with four lines that can roll, it’s tough for opponents.”

Goaltender Louis Domingue started his 11th straight game for Tampa Bay. He's 8-3 over that stretch. On Monday night, he stoped 25 of 26 shots.

“He was excellent, played the puck well, was seeing it," Cooper said. "I thought defensively we didn’t give them much, but when we did, he was there for it. The goal against, a little unfortunate, a missed assignment. He had no chance on that one anyway, it was a great shot. He was in command of the game. You go back to probably the last five periods he’s played, he’s been really good. It’s good to see."

The most impressive thing?

“The timely saves he’s made to give us a chance to win games," Cooper said. "Lou will be the first one to sit here and say he doesn’t have above a 90% save percentage, a goaltender will be down. I tell the guys the most important statistic is the W. When games are in the balance or you’re losing a game 4-1 and he stopped multiple breakaways to keep your team in it. So we have a chance to win. You can’t askmuch more from your goalie than that.”

Said Kucherov: “He’s been unbelievable for us. Every save he makes it’s definitely huge for us and huge confidence he gives us. He’s been good.”

The Bolts play in Detroit tonight against the Red Wings. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m.






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