Bolts win big behind Kucherov, Vasilevskiy

by Gary Shelton on December 19, 2023

in general

Vasilevskiy flirted with a shutout./TIM WIRT

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Maybe it’s the banners hanging from the system. Maybe it’s the quality of the ice. Maybe it’s the familiarity of the locker room.

Regardless, the Tampa Bay Lightning sure appear to like Amalie Arena.

The Bolts, coming off a disappointing road trip, put together one of their most complete games of the season Tuesday night to beat St. Louis 6-1.

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Tampa Bay got star power — two goals by Nikita Kucherov and a near-shutout by Andrei Vasilevskiy. They got depth scoring — the first goal of the year by Haydn Fleury and the second by Tyler Motte. They played solid defense. They moved the puck well.

In the end, they improved their home record to 9-3-3 on the season, far better than their 6-10-2 road record.

The Bolts also had goals from Mikey Eyssimont and Nick Paul.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper wasn’t completely happy, however. 

“We just gave St. Louis way too many opportunities to get back into the game, and fortunately, Vasilevskiy kicked them out. We had some mental fatigue there in the second period.”

Kucherov’s goals came within two minutes (playing time) of each other. He scored with 14 seconds to go in the first period and 1:36 into the second.

The Bolts, for the moment, moved ahead of Detroit with 35 points on the season. They trail the Panthers by three points.

Vasilevskiy came within 4:03 of his second shutout of the season. He stopped 29 of 30 shots.

It was a nice win for the Bolts, who lost to the Blues 5-0 in an earlier meeting.

Tampa Bay is home again Thursday night against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

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