Lightning stays hot in victory over Montreal

by Gary Shelton on January 3, 2020

in general

Kucherov scored the game-winning goal. / CHUCK MULLER

Friday, 3 a.m.

With the new year, the Tampa Bay Lightning is played as it was, well, last season.

The Lightning won its fifth straight game Thursday night, turning back the Montreal Canadiens in a 2-1 victory.

The Lightning, off to a sluggish start this season, is solidly in third place in the Atlantic Division after their streak.

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Cirelli scored the Bolts' first goal// CHUCK MULLER

“The big thing was getting off to a good start," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "It was good to score on that first shift. It’s a different game when you have the lead and that kind of dictated the way we paled a little bit."

Anthony Cirelli scored early for the Bolts (the goal was originally credited to Steven Stamkos. Nikita Kucherov also scored for Tampa Bay.

"That last11 minutes of the second period was tough," Cooper said. "They were coming. We didn’t have any legs. When you turn the puck over, it’s going to hurt you. The big thing was that (Andrei Vasilevskiy) was on and he bailed us out when we needed it. He make a couple of 10 [ell saves, including the big one on Domi in the first period. I didn’t like that we had to rely on him."

Vasilevskiy stopped 38 of 39 shots for his 18th win of the season. That's the third most in the NHL.

“Our last two games we’ve had horrendous starts," Cooper sad. "We had the puck a whole lot."

The Lightning now has a tough weekend. It plays in Ottawa on Saturday night (7 p.m. start) and then travels to Carolina for a 5 p.m. game on Sunday.

Andrei Vasilevskiy won his 18th game./ CHUCK MULLER

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