Once again, Bolts take a huge victory

by Gary Shelton on April 25, 2022

in general

Kucherov had a five-point night./TIM WIRT

Monday, 4 a.m.

Sure you can talk about Florida. You can talk about Colorado. You can talk about Carolina.

But when you're talking about the NHL playoffs, don't forget to talk about the familar faces of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning, who seemed to be sleepwalking through the final stages of the regular season, have come alive. They won their third straight lopsided game against a quality opponent Sunday night -- thrashing the Florida Panthers 8-4 -- to serve notice on next-week's post-season.

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The Bolts have now scored 22 goals in three games against Toronto, Nashville and Florida. The Predators are the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and had won 13 straight games before the Bolts came to town with their fireworks show.

Along the way:

-- Nikita Kucherov scored two goals and had three assists.

-- Steven Stamkos scored two goals and had two assists.

-- Nicholas Paul scored two goals, including a short-hander when he shot between his legs for the goal.

-- Brayden Point and Cal Foote each had a goal.

-- The penalty kill stopped five of six power plays by the Panthers.

Gone, then, are the concerns that the Lightning was a bone-weary team that would mail it in for the post-season. The Bolts have played three of their strongest games of the regular season in a row.

The Bolts took a 3-1 lead on the first goals by Kucherov and Stamkos and the second goal of the year by Foote. Florida came back to tie, however. But Paul scored twice in a row, including his between-the-legs highlight shot.

"That was wicked," Point siad. "I think that’s something extremely underrated with Paulie are his mitts. He’s got great mitts."

The Bolts return to Amalie Arena for a Tuesday night game against the Columbus Blue Jets. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

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