Paquette, scoring machine, leads the Bolts to victory

by Gary Shelton on March 12, 2019 · 4 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Paquette is normally not a scorer./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Suddenly, he is the lighter of lamps. Suddenly, he is a sniper on ice.

For much of his career, Cedric Paquette has specialized in being a stone in

Paquette had two goals against Toronto./CARMEN MANDATO

someone else's skate. He is an irritant, one of those guard dogs of a player who gave opponents a headache. He has been feisty. He has been scrappy.

But, no, he isn't one of those guys who lives in the headlines.

Until lately.

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Johnson scored twice early./JEFFREY S. KING

Paquette scored two goals Monday night to help lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to an impressive 6-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. After a couple of unimpressive games (a loss to Minnesota, a narrow win over Detroit), the Bolts played up to their competition. They took a 4-0 lead and never let up.

Tyler Johnson also scored two goals. Anthony Cirelli and Ondrej Palat had one each.

And, in the late stages of the game, there was Paquette, on the ice with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov as the Bolts tried to get him a hat trick.

A hat trick? Paquette? Hey, Paquette has 15 goals -- combined -- in his last three seasons. But he has 12 this year, including a short-hander against the Leafs.

“It’s nice to see, when these guys work their tail off doing all the right things, they get rewarded for it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It’s not like he’s a guy that plays 20 minutes a night. He plays in all those situations, kind of a grinding role, kills penalties for us, and for somebody like him to get two goals tonight the guys on the bench were really happy for him.”

It was the seventh win in the last eight road games for Tampa Bay. For the season, the Lightning is 24-7-2. It's the second-most road wins for a season in franchise history.

The Bolts (53-13-4) are within one win from tying the franchise record for victories.

"I think it’s contributions from everybody," Paquette said. "From all four lines, two goalies and six D. When you’re out of the lineup, guys have stepped up and showed their ability.

"It’s always a big game against (Toronto) because they dominated us the first game. We got the win, but I think tonight we really wanted to show them that’s why we’re the best team in the league.”

The victory demonstrated the depth of the Bolts, who won easily without goals from Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos or Brayden Point.

"I’m pretty sure we’ve shown that (depth) throughout the season," Johnson said. "We always say we’ve got four lines that can contribute, four lines that can score. Offense, defense, whatever it is, I like the skill that we have.

"I don’t think (I've been a part of an offense like this) so. We have a lot of guys that can score goals, a lot of guys that they don’t need much time and space but they’re able to find it. It’s pretty special.

“We’ve had a good season so far, but we really haven’t done anything. I think our team is a bunch of competitors that work extremely hard. We continue to try to get better every single day. We don’t rely on wins, losses or our record. We just want to be better tomorrow than what we are today, and I think we’ve been doing that.”

Cooper had a hint at the main reason for the team's success.

“I use this word a lot, it’s consistency," Cooper said. "We’re getting a consistent effort every night. There’s a lot of things. Our goaltending’s been good. Our special teams have been outstanding. When you’re at the top of the league for power play and penalty kill, usually that means you’re winning that war during the season.

"We’ve got some depth. The Miller and McDonagh trade last year has an impact. I think it’s more of an impact this year that they’re both healthy. The emergence of Cernak has really helped, the Cirellis, the Josephs, those guys have given us some great depth. We’ve had a consistent effort all year.”

The Lightning conclude their two-game road trip on Thursday night when they take on the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m.




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