Bolts wake up in third to win again

by Gary Shelton on March 22, 2024

in general

Kucherov leads the league in scoring./TIM WIRT

Friday, 4 a.m.

Maybe it was past their bedtimes. Maybe they were bored by the sight of the San Jose Sharks, the worst team in the NHL.

Either way, the Tampa Bay Lightning was guilty of sleep-walking through the first two periods of Friday night’s game. They got off just four shots in the first period, just six in the second. They were in a 1-1 tie in a game that was crucial to them, meaningless to the Sharks.

And then the third period came, and once again, the Lightning was Lightning and, sadly, the Sharks were the Sharks,

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Point has another 40-goal season./TIM WIRT

The Bolts put on a show in the third period to take a 4-1 lead, which isn’t unusual. As bad as San Jose has been, they’ve been the worst in the league in the third period (105 goals given up).

In that third period:

— Brayden Point scored two more goals, giving him 40 on the year. Point has 15 goals in his last 15 games.

— Nikita Kucherov had three of his four points, the eighth time this year he has had four points or more. The last of his assists came with him on his knees facing the end-boards when he flipped the puck out to Point. Kucherov continues to lead the NHL in scoring.

— Anthony Duclair scored his fourth goal in five games for the Bolts against his old team. He has seven points since he joined Tampa Bay.

— Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy finished off a 21-save night for his fifth straight win. He now has 26 wins on the year.

“You come out here and get two points, we’re happy with that,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Listen, that team over there worked their tails off. They may not be looking at a playoff spot, but they played like they were fighting for one, that’s for sure.”

Four of the Lighting’s wins in their streak have come on the road, where the team has struggled much of the year.

The Lightning play next on Saturday night (10:30 p.m.) against the L.A. Kings.

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