Cirelli’s hat trick leads big Lightning win

by Gary Shelton on January 18, 2020

in general

Cirelli had his first career hat trick./CHUCK MULLER

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Do the Tampa Bay Lightning have to take a break now?

I mean, they barely figure in the All-Star game. And given their choice, who wouldn't prefer to keep this hot streak going instead of sleeping in for a few mornings?

The Lightning won its 10th game of its last 12 Friday night, scorching the Winnipeg Jets 7-1. Lightning coach Jon Cooper talked a night before about how tough goals had been to come by for Tampa Bay lately, but you couldn't tell it from the results.

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Killorn has already had a career hat trick./CHUCK MULLER

Anthony Cirelli scored his first career hat trick, and Nikita Kucherov scored two more goals (he now has eight in his last seven games), and Alex Killorn scored his 20th of the season and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy won his 10th straight game. Ondrej Palat had three assists and Steven Stamkos had two.

In other words, the Bolts had their own All-Star game against the Jets.

“Anytime you go on a run as we've gone on here the last fw weeks, you need everyone pulling in the same direction," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "Our team has been doing that. Ultimately, it’s your goaltender who has to bail you out. I know we had a 3-0 lead after one. Vasy stood tall the whole time. He’s been a big part of this run."

Cirelli has 12 goals on the season, but he's been regarded as a secondary scorer for Tampa Bay. Until Friday night. He scored two in the first period, then added a third in the third period on a bouncing puck.

"I'll definitely take it," Cirelli said. "They don't come around very often. It’s pretty special. My first one. It’s something i’ll remember. At first, I wasn't going to shoot it (the third goal). I'm pretty sure it was a lucky bounce."

Said Cooper; "I don't know what was bigger -- Cirelli or Killer getting his 20th. We know how hard those guys work, especially Cirelli and what he brings to our team. He's being rewarded for his work and I'm happy for him."

The Bolts finished a 13-games in 21 nights run. They climbed to second place in the division standings.

"We circled," Cooper said. "We knew between Christmas and the All-Star break was going to be a grind. You hope the hard work you put in is going to pay off. We dropped two of our last four, but if you look at the big picture it was a good run. Now we have to continue to build on this season."

Tampa Bay doesn't play again until Jan. 27 when it is in Dallas.

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