Lightning’s stars outshine those of Dallas

by Gary Shelton on February 15, 2019 · 1 comment

in general

Friday, 4 a.m.

Right about now, the Dallas hockey team could use a goaltender. It could use some offense. It could use some defense.

Heck, right about now, what Dallas really needs is a name change.

Stars? You call those guys stars? After the way the Lightning embarrassed Dallas Thursday night in a 6-0 victory, they should be called the Dallas Dark Skies.

The Bolts had most of the stars on a glittering night as they won their fourth straight game, and scored at least five goals for the

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third straight night. The Bolts have scored 22 goals in four games (after scoring 19 in the previous 10).

Vasilevskiy had his fifth shutout of the season./CHUCK MULLER

You want stars? Check it out.

-- Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 32 shots to win his fifth shutout of the season. Vasilevskiy, only 24 years old, has already tied the Bolts' record with 17 career shutouts in 190 games. Ben Bishop, who Vasilevskiy is . tied with, played in 37 more games. Nikolai Khabibulen had 14 shutouts in 192 games. Vasilevskiy is now 24-7-4 on the season.

-- Forward Nikita Kucherov had four points on the night, and he has 11 in his last three games. Kucherov now has 92 points on the season. He scored his 26th goal of the season. Kucherov is the first Lightning player, and the

Stamkos scored twice for Tampa Bay./CHUCK MULLERfifth different player to have 90 points in fewer than 60 games.

-- Captain Steven Stamkos scored two power play goals to lead the onslaught. In his last 24 games, Stamkos has scored 24 goals and has 25 assists. In the previous 26 games, he had eight goals and 14 assists.

-- Forward Tyler Johnson scored his 20th goal of the season.

-- Alex Killorn scored his 12th goal of the season.

-- Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev scored his third goal of the season.

Sergachev battles for the puck./CHUCK MULLER

"They're never stress-free," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "The one thing is, it's tight. You jump out to a 4-0 lead in the first period, we didn't think it was a 4-0 game. The pucks were going in the net for us and we capitalized on our opportunities. When that happens, you're really putting a team on its heels. It was how are we going to handle this? We get to the third and we're playing for our goalie."

The game was easy enough to make you forget that Dallas had allowed the second-fewest goals in the league.

“We started the game and scored on our chances," Stamkos said. "We get a power-play goal early. For us, when we are on our game, we are creating some offensive-zone time and we’re getting calls. When things weren’t going as well, it was one, lucky to get two power plays a game. It’s an indicative thing for us that we don’t have the puck as much and we’re not

J.T. Miller moves the puck for Tampa Bay./CHUCK MULLER

creating as much. So today we got those two early looks, we get some good chances, we scored, kind of settled down, and pounced on them.”

Stamkos was pleased the Lightnig got to the 90-point barrier so soon

“I don’t think I’ve ever done it this early in the year so that’s cool," Stamkos said. "At the same time, I know it’s a boring answer, but we just want to keep winning. We just want to keep accumulating points. You want to give yourself the best chance when that calendar flips to playoff hockey.”

For Kucherov, multipoint games are becoming commonplace. But Kucherov preferred to talk about Vasilevskiy.

“He has been unbelievable for us for the whole season," Kucherov said. "He’s a top goalie in the league. Especially for him, after the 1st period we were up 4-0, we just want to make sure we play smart and we don’t give up chances.”

It was up to Sergachev to provide the praise for Kucherov.

“He’s probably like a top-5 player in the league, if not the best," Sergachev said. He has what, 100 points already? It’s great, he’ll always find you and he’ll always shoot the puck. He sees openings that not a lot of guys in this league see."

Said Stamkos: "For him, a slump is getting only one point a game."

"That’s how it goes for scores," Cooper said. "You want consistency in you game. He's been consistent. He's a dynamic player."

The Bolts play against Montreal on Saturday at Amalie Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.

Killorn scored his 12th goal of the season./CHUCK MULLER

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