Bolts survive in OT to force a Game 7

by Gary Shelton on May 13, 2022

in general

Point (21) celebrates winning goal./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 4 a.m.

It was late in the evening, and still, the Lightning needed a lot of things. Maybe that's the Point.

They needed someone to take them off of life support. They needed someone to promise tomorrow. They needed someone to help blunt the attack of the Toronto Maple Leafs. They needed clutch, and they needed now, and they needed a man for the moment.

When you think about it, that's kind of what Brayden Point does, isn't it?

Point, the king of overtime, the darling of the points season, did it again Thursday night. He knocked in a dirty goal (one from the traffic in front of the net) with 1:56 left in the first extra period to lead the Bolts to a 4-3 overtime victory. The win keeps the Lightning's season alive.

The moment wasn't unusual for Point, who has scored 30 goals in his last three playoffs. Who else are you gonna call?

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Cirelli's short-hander helped lead the Lightning./JEFFREY S. KING

"No surprise with Pointer," said teammate Steven Stamkos. "That's his time of the year."

Said coach Jon Cooper: "Pointer was not happy with the one goal (Auston) Matthews scored. He missed his stick there. Big players show up in big moments. Pointer was obviously the man to finish it off like he’s done so many times. "

What else did Point do? Well, he took an eraser to Lightning flaws earlier in the game. The Bolts blew another 2-0 lead, as Toronto's John Tavares scored twice in the final 34 seconds of the second period.

But the Bolts rode their special teams to this win.

-- They scored on a 4-on-4 situation when Onrej Palat got the team off to a good start.

-- They scored short-handed on Anthony Cirelli's spin-o-rama shot to make it 2-0.

-- After the team fell behind 3-2, they scored on a 5-on-3 power play when Nikita Kucherov tied the game in the third period.

Goaltender Andri Vasilevskiy hasn't had a great series, but he stopped all nine shots he faced in overtime. For the night, he had 30 saves.

The Bolts now face a Game Seven, win-or-go-home game against Toronto on Saturday night. Since 2005, the Leafs are 0-9 in games that could close out series.

"You rely on past experience," Stamkos said. "We were in this situation not so long ago. You just have to bring it. You never know when that moment is in the game. It’s almost like you’re playing three overtime periods. It’s the magnitude of every shift."

Defenseman Victor Hedman put it this way: "It was the best of seven. Then it was the best of five. Then it was the best of three. Now it's the best of one."

Saturday night's game begins at 7:30 p.m. in Toronto.

Vasilevskiy stopped all nine overtime shots./JEFFREY S. KING

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