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Kucherov and the Bolts Both Extend Their Point Totals as They Defeat the Sens
By: Kyle Pereira
After getting slapped around by the Boston Bruins in the last game, which stopped the Lightning from breaking the all-time record for fastest team to 50 wins in a season set by the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96 (66 games), they were looking to at least tie that record. They would have a great opportunity to do so playing in Amalie arena to take on the last place Ottawa Senators.
In the first period, the Senators brought their energy, as their young guns and new interim head coach all had something to prove. But 7:17 into the first, Victor Hedman collected his 9th goal of the year, assisted by Anthony Cirelli and Dan Girardi. It started with a great pass to the point from JT Miller to Dan Girardi. Dan Girardi one timed a bomb on net and the puck fell into a crowd in the slot. Through the mayhem, Anthony Cirelli pushed the puck into the open, and Victor Hedman snuck into the circle to blast it home. 1-0 Tampa Bay. Just under two minutes later, Ryan McDonagh buried his 7th of the season, assisted by Erik Cernak and Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov took it around the Senators goal, carried it up to the point area, where he met Cernak who was entering the zone. Kucherov dropped a perfect pass to Cernak who took it to the top of the circle and threaded the needle on a cross ice pass to an open McDonagh who found the back of the net to make it 2-0 Tampa Bay. But the Senators wouldn’t go away quietly, as Anthony Duclair put one past Andrei Vasilevskiy just a little over 30 seconds later, and the Senators would go on to keep the pressure in the Bolts zone with two power play opportunities, to no avail. The period ended with the Sens leading in shots 16-9, but the Bolts had the 2-1 lead.
In the second period, the Bolts began to separate themselves from the Senators, not only outshooting them, but also putting up another two goals. First, just a little over 3 minutes into the second frame, Erik Cernak scored his 3rd of the season, assisted by Alex Killorn and Braydon Coburn. Similar to the McDonagh goal, Cernak was entering the zone with speed, catching a drop pass, this time from Killorn, and instead of passing across the ice, fired it home to take a 3-1 Lightning lead. A lot happened before the second goal occured, with the Bolts killing 2 penalties and having a power play for themselves (which came empty handed). But with four and a half minutes to go in the second, Nikita Kucherov buried his 31st goal (106th point) assisted by Victor Hedman and Adam Erne. This goal was very strange, as Hedman carried it to the corner and reversed it up the boards to Kucherov at the point, he fired a wobbly shot towards the net through traffic that Craig Anderson never saw. Anderson didn’t even move when the shot came, and it went right between his pads. Regardless, a goal is a goal, and it would be 4-1 Bolts. The Lightning would go back to the power play about a minute later, but yet again could not convert. Shots were 11-9 Lightning in that period.
Yet again the Bolts struck fast, scoring just under 2 minutes into the final frame of the game, this time being Mikhail Sergachev with his 5th on the year, assisted by Braydon Coburn and Alex Killorn. With this goal, 4 of the Lightning 6 defenseman scored in the same game for the first time in franchise history. At the same time, all 6 defenseman registered at least a point in this game. After Killorn won the race to the loose puck in the corner, and he played it up the boards to Sergachev. Sergachev then dished it over to Coburn who sent it right back, and he unleashed a cannon of a shot that found the back of the net: 5-1 Tampa Bay. The Bolts would go to the power play one last time, but again could not score. They finished 0/3 on the power play and 3/3 on the penalty kill. They also outshot the Sens 14-12 in the third, but the Sens had more shots combined through all 3 periods 37-34.
Kucherov continues to go on a tear with yet another multi point night, with a league leading 106 points. The Lightning improve their record to 14-1-1 following losses with this win. Up next, the Bolts take on a tough Winnipeg Jets team on Tuesday night at home in Amalie Arena.