Lightning finds enough rhythm to beat the band

by Gary Shelton on February 13, 2019 · 2 comments

in general

Stamkos scored his 30th goal on the power play./CHUCK MULLER

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Think of them as a great rock and roll band. Perhaps then you can admire the beautiful music of which they are capable.

Imagine Nikita Kucherov on lead guitar. Who is better than Kucherov?

Imagine Steven Stamkos on drums. Who sets a better rhythm?

Imagine Brayden Point on bass. Imagine Victor Hedman on keyboards. Imagine Ryan McDonagh on rhythm guitar. Imagine Andrei Vasilevskiy on sax.

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Coburn celebrates after Gourde scored on a deflection./CHUCK MULLER

This is what it is like when all of the Lightning are in tune. They produce hit after hit, highlight after highlight.

Count Tuesday night as the latest contribution to the Bolts' greatest hits album. Tampa Bay's stars came out, and as a result, the team blew out one of the top teams from the West, the Calgary Flames, by a 6-3 count.

Point leads the Bolts with 33 goals./CHUCK MULLER

The Bolts are now 42-11-4 on the season.

For the Bolts, 88 was the magic number for the night. The Bolts improved their league-leading point total to 88, and as an individual, Nikita Kucherov increased his point total to 88. Together, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov have 88 goals on the season.

Kucherov had at least four points (his 25th goal and three assists) for the fifth time this season.

Point scored his team leading 33rd goal. He is third in the NHL in goals.

The Bolts took a 3-0 lead on goals by Point, Cedric Paquette and Kucherov. After the Flames came back to within 3-2, the Bolts got consecutive goals from Anthony Cirelli, Yanni Gourde and Steven Stamkos. It was Stamkos' 30th goal of the season.

Tyler Johnson sets up camp in front of the net./CHUCK MULLER

“We played with the puck, we shot it, and when there were rebounds we worked to get it back," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We worked. Big thing for us is when we’re turning it over, it can cause problems, especially against a team with the fire power they have up front. We managed it well.”

Point wasn't concerned when Kucherov went scoreless in back-to-back games against the Blues and Penguins.

"He goes two games without getting a point but still is creating tons of chances in those games," Point said. "It's just that pucks weren't going in. With the amount of plays he makes, the amount of chances he creates, he's bound to get points, so it's great to see for him."

Sergachev moves the puck up the ice./CHUCK MULLER

The Bolts have now scored 16 goals in three games after scoring only 19 in the previous 10 games.

“I don’t think anyone in this room was worried about back-to-back overtime or shootout loss," captain Steven Stamkos said. "I thought we played some decent hockey in those games against some good teams. Pucks are going in.

"There’s no panic in this room. We had a really good first period, which was our goal coming off the third we had in Florida the other night. We’re playing some smarter hockey now with the puck. Tonight, a couple power-play goals against, so 5-5 I thought we really didn’t give them much."

Kucherov has now scored seven points in two games.

“The offense kind of goes with Kuch," Stamkos said. "When you have an elite player like that, when you go through a dry spell, it’s tough for him to get going as well when we’re not getting opportunities as a team. I thought we weren’t really generating a lot of power-play opportunities in those games either, and that helps drive our offense as well. We weren’t worried about Kuch. Once he got one, you know they’re going to come in bunches.”

Kucherov said the scoring slump didn't bother him.

“We don’t care as long as we win the games," Kucherov said. "If it’s 1-0 or 2-1, it doesn’t matter. We just want to stay confident in ourselves and just keep working. We want to make sure we play well defensively before thinking about offense. If you do that, you’re going to have success.”

The Bolts play Thursday night at Amalie Arena against Dallas. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m.

Vasilevskiy is now 23-7-4 on the season./CHUCK MULLER



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