Lighting concludes a hot December against Anaheim

by Gary Shelton on January 1, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Point scored in overtime to lead Bolts./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

What we end up thinking about this Tampa Bay Lightning team will be decided in the New Year.

You can't blame the Tampa Bay Lightning, however, if they want to savor the old one a bit first.

The Lightning closed out a sizzling December Monday night, beating the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in overtime when Brayden Point scored 35 seconds into the extra period. The Bolts finished the month with a 13-0-1 record to become the second team in franchise history to finish a month without a regulation loss (they also did it in October of 2003) and became just the eighth team in the last 10 years of the NHL to do it.

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Vasilevskiy won his 15th game of the season./STEVEN MUNCIE

The Lightning have won six games in a row. They’re 14-0-1 on their 15-game point streak and 17-1-1 over their last 19 games.

"Give the boys credit," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "They had a pretty productive December. Especially with the amount of goals we’ve given up in a little bit. To only give up one against a pretty good hockey team was pretty satisfying tonight."

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy outdueled the Ducks'  John Gibson to run his record to 6-0-1 since returning from a broken foot. For the season, Vasilevskiy has 15 wins.

"Two of the best goalies in the game put on a show tonight," Cooper said.

It had to be satisfying for Tampa Bay, which had given up 24 goals in its previous six games.

“If we want to play in the spring and try and go deep into the spring, you’ve got to be able to keep the puck out of your net," Cooper said. "That was a big point for us coming into this game and this trip we have to do that. Coming out of the break there, call it some pretty loose hockey that was going on. It’s probably fun for the fans sitting in their seats, but we needed to get this thing going so we can go deep into the spring. Tonight was a good step for us.”

The Bolts are now 31-7-2 on the season. They have won four straight.

Nikita Kucherov scored his 19th goal on the season. Kucherov is first in the NHL with 63 points, Point is eighth with 50 points and Steven Stamkos is 23rd with 43.

“When you’re hot, you’re hot, and it just seemed like everybody was getting hot at the same time," Cooper said. "I think Kucherov may have had over 30 points in the month, which is remarkable. He’s working, he’s working at it. You’ve got to take advantage when times like this happen. He’s definitely doing that. A lot of guys are playing the right way, and it’s fun to watch them play.”

Point scored his winning goal even after fighting through Ducks' defenseman Brandon Montour.

"To have a guy all over you and to kind corral a bouncing puck the way he did and be able to make a play was remarkable,"Cooper said. "I don’t know how many overtime goals the kid has but he’s got a few. Obviously none bigger than that one."

The Bolts play again Thursday night when they play the Kings in Los Angeles. The puck is scheduled to drop at 10:30 Eastern Time.

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