Bolts flex muscles with win over Wild

by Gary Shelton on January 19, 2024

in general

Kucherov had three more points./TIM WIRT

Friday, 4 a.m.

Suddenly, they are fast again.

Once more, they are smart, and deep, and efficient. Suddenly, the Tampa Bay Lightning looks like it has voltage again.

The Lightning pulled away to beat the Minnesota Wild, 7-3, on Thursday night, a game that looked something like a highlight film for the home team. The Lightning has been on-again, off-again for most of the season, but for the first time, they have won four straight, and their stars are playing well.

Cirelli scored two goals./TIM WIRT

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Merela scored his first goal./TIM WIRT

— Defenseman Victor Hedman, for instance, had a four-point night with a goal and three assists.

— Forward Nikita Kucherov, the leading scorer in the NHL, had three points with a three assists. It was his 500th point. He is the third fastest among active players to reach the mark.

— Forward Anthony Cirelli had two goals and an assist.

—Forward Brayden Point had a goal and two assists.

— Rookie Walterri Merela had his first goal.

— And goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 30 of 33 shots. He is now 12-9 on the season.

It all contributed to a 4-0 home standand the look of a team that just might take off.

"It's hard to say," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It's a tough league to win in. I did feel at the end of that road trip -- even though the score of Boston game was a lot like tonight's -- that we weren't that far off. Our game is getting more consistent.

"At some point, we have to dig in our heels and win some games."

The Bolts also continued their performance on the power play. They scored on all three opportunities. They have now scored on six straight power plays.

Steven Stamkos also scored, moving to a tie for 16th on career power plays with Joe Sakic.

The Lightning, however, must now go back on the road, where they are just 8-12-2 this year. They play seven of their next nine on the road, including a Saturday game (12:30 eastern) against Buffalo.

Mayfield enjoyed the game./TIM WIRT

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