Nikita Kucherov scored once and set up three other goals, bringing his point totals on the season to 69 in 41 games, and point total in his career to 400; becoming the first member of his draft class to reach that mark. Kuch also extended his streak of multiple points in a game to seven. He only needs one more to tie Vincent Lecavalier for the franchise lead.
Nikita Kucherov recorded his seventh consecutive multi-point game to become the second player in @TBLightning franchise history to accomplish the feat, joining Vincent Lecavalier who posted a streak of 8 GP (Nov. 3 – 19, 2007). #NHLStats #TBLvsLAK pic.twitter.com/UXbuFPsZYV— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 4, 2019
Steven Stamkos was not to be out-done. He was the engine that powered the power play in the first period, throwing the Kings left and right with deceptive passes so that he could set up his teammates for tap-ins. He would later get a goal of his own, making it a three-point night for the Captain. All primary points, by the way.
Five minutes into the game, Kings winger Brendan Leipsic took a four-minute high-sticking penalty against Brayden Coburn in front of the Lightning net, sending the Lightning to an extended power play. Bad idea. Want to hear a worse idea? Dustin Brown receiving a two-minute hooking penalty less than a minute into that penalty. As a result, the Lightning got two minutes of uninterrupted time with two extra men. It went about as well as you expected.
1-0 and 2-0
Stamkos appeared to have worked extremely hard on his fake-shot pass throughout the summer because he used to extremely hilarious effect (TWICE!) on these two goals.
First, Stamkos, Kucherov, and Tyler Johnson were passing the puck between themselves around the perimeter, until Stamkos was set up for a big one-timer. Every single King on the ice (especially Jonathan Quick) bit really hard on the shot, only to find that it was all a fake for Kucherov to get the puck and literally pass it into the net.
Here are some facts about Nikita Kucherov currently:— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) January 4, 2019
• He's now on a 12-game point streak
• This is his seventh-straight multi-point game
• This goal is his 400th career @nhl point
• He leads the league in scoring with 67 points#Klutcherov | #TBLvsLAK pic.twitter.com/Ls1460e3aN
The Lightning remained on the 5-on-3 power play, as only one of the two Leipsic penalties was taken off the board for the goal. It took the Lightning a little bit longer to get their next goal — because the Kings were going hard after the seam pass — but eventually they alternated strategies, and went after the shot-rebound method. It also worked amazingly well. Lots of credit for this versatility goes to Ondrej Palat. He was the man in front who was able to grab every single rebound and send the puck back out for a shot from the perimeter.
On this goal, Stamkos once again had the puck in a shooting position, but decided to pass to his left so that Brayden Point could get a tap-in. Kucherov got the secondary assist on the goal, meaning he now has multiple points in seven straight games. Only Vincent Lecavalier has more in the franchises history (8).
This goal was much simpler. Ryan Callahan was hiding in the bushes (also known as the neutral zone) so that he could pounce on a Jake Muzzin stretch pass through the middle. Cally was able to intercept it, go in alone, and deke out Quick for another easy goal.
The Kings should’ve forfeited after the first period. Even if you took out all of the 5-on-3 shooting, the Lightning still quadrupled up on the Kings in shots. They were massively ahead in shot attempts (23-6), shots (11-4), and scoring chances (11-2).
Coach Cooper's face when he looks at the standings. pic.twitter.com/alFz8CiN5b— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) January 4, 2019
The Lightning would score again. Barely thirty seconds into the second period, Ryan McDonagh grabbed a loose puck at the half-wall and absolutely wired a seed to the top corner of Quick’s net. The veteran goaltender for the Kings tried some... unusual techniques in order to stop the puck, but they were all absolutely futile.
Unfortunately, the Kings killed the shut-out bid when Austin Wagner was able to pick up a bobbling puck off the stick of McDonagh, head down the ice, and score with a nice shot over Andrei Vasilevskiy.
We can all blame Mr. Esteves for that goal. NEVER SAY THE S-WORD DURING A GAME!
The Kings apparently learned nothing in the first period about taking penalties against the Lightning. With Kings captain Anze Kopitar in the box for high-sticking, the Bolts’ captain continued the clinic on the power play. This time, instead of Stamkos sending Kucherov a perfect seam pass, it was the other way around. There’s not much to analyze this goal, other than the Lightning just doing what they normally do, which is doing the same things over and over again, but being too good to stop, even when you know it’s coming.
The second was much less embarrassing for the Kings than the first. The Lightning kept the shot differentials most even probably out of sheer pity. At even strength, these were the numbers: shot attempts (13-12), shots (8-6), scoring chances (6-4).
During the long months of the winter, everyone is a little down. It’s cold and rainy outside, the power play goals lose a bit of their luster, and our friends up north are all sick with the cold and flu. In order to face this adversity head on, rink-side reporter Matt has some wisdom he was kind enough to share on Twitter. Orange juice and positivity, folks. Orange juice and positivity.
ORANGE JUICE AND POSITIVITY! ORANGE JUICE AND POSITIVITY!— Matthew Esteves (@mattestevesSBN) January 4, 2019
Drew Doughty signed an eight-year contract extension worth $88M in the offseason, and Mathieu Joseph just breezed by him for a clean breakaway goal. Joseph, by the way, only will make a total of $1,424,500 for this year and next. Is Drew Doughty already washed? He definitely didn’t convince me otherwise in this game.
Drew Doughty (under contract for 9 years and getting paid $95M) just got Ron Hainsey walked by Mathieu Joseph.— Frosty the SnowLad ☃️ (@HardevLad) January 4, 2019
And just to spite me, Doughty scored the Kings’ second goal of the game, this one on the power play.
- The team defense was very good in this game. The whole team worked so hard to give Vasy as easy of a night as they could. They got in the shooting lanes and blocked/deflected shots, they kept the puck to the perimeter of the offensive zone, and they bailed him out when he needed them to. I’m thinking back to the moment when Anton Stralman had to pull the puck from the goal line after it squeezed past Vasy in the first period. Honestly, if that went in, the game wouldn’t have been as one-sided as it ended up being. The Kings probably would’ve had a lot more confidence than they did.
- As an extension of the team defense, the penalty kill was great against the Kings. Despite taking over 13 minutes in penalties, the Bolts did a great job of covering the lanes and blocking shots. Of the 14 shots directed at Vasilevskiy, only nine were not blocked. Of those nine, Vasy only had to save six. That’s not a bad record, in my opinion.
- One last thing, I would like to formally thank the LA Kings for Erik Cernak. Your donation to our cause is greatly appreciated.
Erik Cernak was in starting lineup for #tblightning against former team, Kings. Been a boon for TB, now in top-4 w McDonagh. Part of Bishop trade. “I was pretty happy when they traded me. I came to development camp and everyone was friendly to me. It was much different than L.A"— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) January 4, 2019