Bolts overcome slow start to defeat New Jersey

by Gary Shelton on February 16, 2022

in general

Vasilevskiy leads the league with 26 wins./TIM WIRT

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

How can a team that starts so slowly finish so fast?

The Tampa Bay Lightning, sluggish once again in the early going, flipped the switch and ran away from the New Jersey Devils in a 6-3 win that was harder than the score might suggest.

The Bolts, who had just four shots in the first period, scored five straight goals to take the comeback win. In the end, it looked easy. At the beginning, it did not. Lightning coach Jon Cooper referred to his team's start as "dreadful" against the Devils, the last-place team in the Metropolitan Division.

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Despite the slow start, the Bolts finished strong, getting six goals from six different players en route to the win. Five players had multi-point nights.

"This has been the way the whole year," forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. "We have our top guys, and they can carry the team, but it’s all about making sure the rest of the team is playing the right way. Depth is important. If you want to have a run in the playoffs, you won’t do it with just two lines."

Cooper suggested that part of the Bolts problem might have been the NHL's wacky schedule, which gave teams several days off for the all-star game, brought them back for make-up games and now turns them loose for another stretch.

“I don’t like our break," Cooper said. "I don’t like what has happened here. I thought our guys deserved the full time off. It’s kind of tough to have five days off, ome back and then have five or six more. off I feel for the guys a little bit."

Cooper wasn't pleased the Devils scored three times, even though one was directed in by Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak and the other was on a turnover on a power play.

"If you want a chance to win in this league, you’ve got to keep them to two or under," Cooper said. "Three ... I think you’re playing with fire. It’s a hard league to score in. If you give up more than two, the game can hang in the balance."

The Bolts scoed goals from Pat Maroon, Alex Killorn, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedmarn, Nikota Kucherov and Bellemare.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 26th victory of the year.

The Bolts don't play again until Feb. 23, when they host Edmonton at Amalie Arena. The game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

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