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Nikita Kucherov extends scoring streak as Lightning beat Red Wings 3-2

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Let me know if you’ve heard this before, but Kucherov and Vasilevskiy carry the Lightning to another victory.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Detroit Red Wings
Oct 16, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the third period against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In their first visit to the Little Caesar's Arena in Detroit, the Tampa Bay Lightning win their 8th game in a row against the Red Wings, 3-2, on the back of Kucherov's two-goal game, including the game-winning goal.

First Period

Right off the hop the Lightning control possession early, including getting the first two shot attempts in the game.

Luke Witkowski (hey, I remember you) hits rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev hard in the defensive zone. Alex Killorn doesn’t like the hit and goes after Witkowski near the benches. Killorn ends up in the penalty box for interference.

On the penalty kill, Henrik Zetterberg splits the penalty killers as he enters the zone, his backhand nearly gets by Andrei Vasilevskiy but Vasy makes the save.

You know it’s going to be a good night for Vasy when the Lightning have cruel irony on their side.

The early powerplay for Detroit (thanks a lot, Luke) shifts the momentum in the Red Wings’ favor. The Wings have two shot attempts at even strength and four on the powerplay.

After a TV timeout, Steven Stamkos’s line comes on and immediately forces the Wings into icing the puck. Could this be a sign of a momentum shift?

1-0

Yes! With Chris Kunitz in the box for slashing (who hasn’t been in the box for slashing this season) The Wings are back on the powerpl—oohhhhh Johnny, Tyler Johnson is on a breakaway! Johnny speeds away from Trevor Daley like it’s nothing and pots his forehand through the five-hole of goaltender Jimmy Howard. If there is one word to describe this play, it would be effortless.

@GeoFitz4 notes that this is Johnson’s first shorthanded goal since the year when he led the league in the category.

On the same powerplay, Martin Frk takes a holding penalty, ending the man-advantage, and sends the teams to 4-on-4 for a few seconds. As the 4-on-4 expires the Lightning will have a short powerplay to work with.

2-0

Like clockwork, Nikita Kucherov scores on the powerplay! Victor Hedman enters the zone with ease and circles the net. The puck moves around before it reaches Kuch who wrists it from the faceoff dot. Top corner. High glove. Beauty.

“He has now scored in 6 straight. All hail Kucherov” - @iActium

The momentum off the back of a good first-line shift, a shorthanded goal, and a powerplay goal did indeed swing the it back into the Bolts’ favor. Frans Nielsen goes to the box for hooking and the Lightning get a powerplay with a little over three-and-a-half minutes left in the period.

The second powerplay unit comes on after a decent shift from the main powerplay unit. Mikhail Sergachev’s point shot eventually bounces to Brayden Point. Point has a wide open net but is stopped by Xavier Ouellet, who does his best goaltending cosplay, making a nice pad save.

Vladislav Namestnikov hits Frk hard along the boards in the offensive zone, and Frk is slow to get up after his head hits the glass hard and awkwardly. The Wings keep the puck in their offensive zone until the end of the period. Lightning will be down one player when play returns for the second.

Second Period

And just like movie magic you’re back for the second! 20 seconds into the penalty, Danny Dekeyser gets caught slashing a Lightning defender in front of the net. Soft call but that’s the new NHL, i guess. To 4-on-4 we go!

2-1

As the 20-second powerplay for the Lightning comes to a close, a clearing attempt takes a funny bounce, allowing Justin Abdelkader to get a clear breakaway. Abdelkader shoots and is stopped by Vasy. He falls into the goalie and Darren Helm, who was coming in late, pots the puck in. An interesting wrinkle in this play is that Hedman was called for a hooking penalty on Abdelkader as he was shooting the puck. After an extensive conversation between the referees, the coaches, and an official video review...

Back to 2-0

The goal is overturned! Victor Hedman will still get called for the hooking penalty but the Helm goal gets called back due to goaltender interference.

WAIT WHAT DO YOU MEAN ABDELKATER GETS A PENALTY SHOT!?! Does Hedman still get a penalty? No? Okay, that’s good at least. Now we just have to hope Vasy stops Abdelkader on the penalty shot...

Back to 2-1

D’aw he scored, giving the Red Wings their first goal of the game and cutting the Lightning’s lead in half. It is the 17:30 mark in the second period and, for the second time, it’s a 2-1 game. Anyone else left wondering what the rules to hockey are?

Let’s not give the NHL any ideas, Doug.

The Palat-Point-Gourde lines comes on and wrecks havoc against Detroit for a whole shift, nearly scoring.

As a whole, the Lightning are chasing the play a lot this period and haven’t been able to get anything going offensively. They are down in shots (10-17) and shot attempts (14-23). No offense to Detroit, but the Bolts need to do better.

The number of post-whistle skirmishes between these two sides is increasing as the game goes on. These two teams definitely remember the playoff series from two seasons ago.

Gary Bettman walks to the Draft podium We have yet another penalty to announce: Kronwall for holding. The Bolts could not convert on this attempt, unfortunately.

Gary Bettman walks to the Draft podium We have yet another penalty to announce: Koekkoek for slashing. The Wings could not convert on this attempt, fortunately.

Gary Bettman walks to the Draft podium We have yet another penalty to announce: The Referee goes for interference against Zetterberg. That’s not a penalty? Lol.

[Hardev is having a good time writing game recaps. :D - Acha]

2-2

The Lightning have a Grade-A scoring chance in the offensive zone but can’t convert. The play goes the other way and a lot of Lightning players are caught. Thankfully, Yanni Gourde speeds by everyone and makes a 2-on-1 a 2-on-2. However, no one else decides to cover any of the Red Wings, especially Mike Green, and the offensive defenseman scores on the rebound.

A theme I hear from Lightning fans heading into the second intermission is that the Bolts have been extremely sloppy. At least we head into the third period tied! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

After two periods, there have been nine total penalties (five for Tampa, 4 for Detroit). I’m glad the refs are calling the game as it should be called, but these penalties are really slowing the pace and flow of the sport. Ah well, maybe the third will be better.

Third Period

3-2

That was foreshadowing because less than two minutes into the third the Lightning score! Kucherov tips home a pass from Steven Stamkos after Vladdy forces a turnover from Detroit in their own zone. Kuch gets such a small touch on the puck I’d like to believe that if he didn’t tape his stick, the puck would’ve gone by the 40-goal man.

“He works at his game, and so I don’t know if kids stay up late to watch this, you work at your game, you’re going to get better. He scores 30 and then he gets 40. Well, he’s not sitting here saying, ‘Yeah, I got 40.’ He says, ‘Well, I want to get 50.’ You kind of like the hunger of that, but that doesn’t come easily. You have to work at that. The traits of a player of his magnitude is he makes players around him better as well. He’s really turned into a top player in this league.” - Jon Cooper on Kucherov

The Bolts have definitely come back in this period looking like their normal, dominant selves. Five minutes in, the shots in the period are 4-1 in favor of the team with the two generational scorers and no cap issues.

Stamkos on the backcheck hits Nyquist a little high and the Detroit forward needs help getting off the ice. Ouch. Thankfully for Stammer, there is no penalty on the play.

Due to some great offensive zone time, Anthony Mantha is forced to take a hooking penalty and the Lightning head to their fifth powerplay. Stamkos hits the post late in the PP but ultimately nothing comes of it.

With five minutes to go in the game, Alex Killorn gets called for a “holding the puck” penalty. The Wings put on good pressure but the Lightning weather the storm and kill it off.

With less than a minute to go the Wings’ quick passing opens up the Lightning’s defense and gives Nyquist (who did return) a glorious chance. Somehow the puck doesn’t go in the net and the Lightning kill off the rest of the clock.

The Lightning definitely are not their best selves in this game, but thankfully they’re playing Detroit and Zetterberg’s band of merry men couldn’t take advantage. Just win baby.

@loserpoints has a great post-game infographic with the game’s advanced numbers. Tampa got caved in for a lot of the game, especially the second period.