Point’s goal helps Bolts send Jackets home

by Gary Shelton on August 20, 2020

in general

Point seems to own overtime./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Now that the Tampa Bay Lightning are headed to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's clear who it is that is Pointing the way.

Brayden Point, a 24-year-old forward, added to his history of big goals Wednesday afternoon, scoring with 5:12 gone in overtime to lift the Lightning to a close-out, 5-4 victory over Columbus.

Point scored his second walk-off goal in the playoffs -- he ended the first victory in five overtimes -- when he lifted a backhander over the shoulder of Joonas Korpisalo.

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For a decisive victory, it was one with ebbs and flows. The Bolts leapt to a 2-0 lead, then fell behind by two goals with eight minutes to play before rallying to force the extra period.

For the Lightning, it was a bit of payback. The Blue Jackets swept the Lightning a year ago -- the Lightning had won the President's Trophy as the best regular-season team. This time, the Bolts won in five games, two of them overtime. It was enough for Cooper to celebrate with a fist pump.

"We had 422 days (actually 491) to think about it," Cooper said. "But who's counting?"

The fist pump meant "more than you'll know," said Cooper. "If you saw that, you pretty much know how I feel.

"It's easy to say you wanted them now, but it was good to get them and good to get this result. A lot of learning went into last year. We had to grow as a team. We didn't need to tweak the way we played. I don't know that it was as much structure as it was between the ears. All of us collectively had to be harder, had to be better, had to train ourselves to play a different way. And we did."

Start with Point, whose big-game goals are beginning to rival former Bolt great Martin St. Louis.

"It was just a good read by Kooch (Nikita Kucherov)," said Point. "He steals the puck. He's a guy who sees the ice so well. He spots me in front of the net."

The Bolts advance to the second round of the playoffs, probably against Philadelphia, which holds a 3-1 lead over Montreal in their playoff series.

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