Bolts win sixth straight opener, but was it enough?

by Gary Shelton on October 4, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Vasilevskiy peeks around the Panthers' Barkov to find the puck./CHUCK MULLER

Friday, 4 a.m.

The Tampa Bay Lightning upwrapped a new season Thursday night. Were you thrilled?

They won their sixth straight opener and their ninth of their last 10. Were you satisfied?

They pulled away in the third period against the Florida Panthers to win 5-3. Were you captivated?

Probably no. And no. And no. The Lightning is 1-0, because that's as good as a team can be after its opening game. But if you're honest, after last season, you want to see the playoffs before you label this season a success.

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Maroon reacts to getting hit by an errant puck./CHUCK MULLER

After all, the Lightning was terrific last regular season, too, and it laid a giant egg in the playoffs. So forgive Tampa Bay fans if they will wait for the double-bonus round before they are captured this time. Sure, winning is better than losing, but don't blame those fans who want to be convinced that there is something better about this team.

"Listen, it was game one," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "There was a lot of the game I liked. Did we get bit  by a little bit of turnovers? Did we give up a 2 on 1? A 3 on 1? Could we be better as a team? No question. It's game one. There is so much excitement. Guys are running around a little bit. But I look at the big picture. We came here to get two points. We had to face some adversity in the third period but we handled it well."

The Bolts scored the game's final three goals to win. In all, they got goals from five players -- Nikita Kucherov, Kevin Shattenkirk, Ondrej Palat, Patrick Maroon and Erik Cernack -- in the win. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy played well in the victory.

Sergachev had three assists./CHUCK MULLER

The win did get a touch of revenge. The Bolts beat Florida's Sergei Bobrovsky, who was the goalie as Columbus won four straight playoff games over the Bolts last year.

"Bobrovsky is a world class goalie," Cooper said. "You have to have good goals to beat him," the Lightning coach said. "Tips, rebounds and pucks that are laying there you've to put in, and we did tonight."

Tampa Bay travels to Florida for a game on Saturday night.

Lightning's Johnson tries to find some space./CHUCK MULLER

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