Kucherov’s late goal leads to Lightning win

by Gary Shelton on September 10, 2020

in general

Kucherov's late goal lifted Lightning./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

For a moment, the two men locked eyes. Around them, the clock was ticking, and others were skating, and overtime hung in the air.

But just like that, when Nikita Kucherov met the gaze of defenseman Ryan McDonagh, it was over.

And the Lightning was in charge of the Eastern Conference Championship series.

The game was down to its final seconds when McDonagh grabbed the puck. He looked across the ice for Kucherov -- in a key moment, where

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Vasilevskiy was solid in goal./TIM WIRT

else would he look? -- and slid a long cross-ice pass. Kucherov one-timed it past New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov for the winning goal with 8.8 seconds to play in a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders.

Just like that, the Bolts went up 2-0 in the series and moved within six wins of the second Stanley Cup in franchise history.

It was yet another defining moment in the career of Kucherov, who now has 35 career playoff goals.

"It was a gutty, gutty effort," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, who pumped his fist three times when the game was over. "In the end, it was gutty. That’s what that effort was. It was just gutty.”

The point was, to Cooper, that the win was gutty which, Cooper acknowledged, is about as high a compliment as you can pay a team.

"Gutty might be that slang word for it," Cooper said. "It consumes (includes) character, resiliency, perseverance, adversity. That's what it was."

As victories go, this one was much tougher than the Lightning's 8-2 win the first game. The Bolts, who started with 11 forwards, lost Alex Killorn (game misconduct) after 1:44 of ice time, and then lost Brayden Point to injury after only 8:49. They had to kill off a five minute penalty for the game misconduct in the first period and 38 seconds of five-on-three hockey in the third.

Victor Hedman scored a goal for the fourth straight game for the Bolts. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 27 saves.

Game Three is scheduled for Friday night at 8 p.m.

Killorn left the game early/TIM WIRT

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