The Tampa Bay Lightning have a Brayden Point, and they weren’t afraid to use it in a dominating 7-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on the road. In Point’s first game of the season, he scored two goals and added an assist while racking up five shots. His line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov combined for five goals (Kucherov also had a two-goal game) on eleven shots in the win.
The game started at a lightning pace, with the two blue and white teams trading goals all throughout the frame. Eventually, the Bolts were able to build on the 4-3 lead they held after one, adding three more goals for an eventual 7-3 victory. Beyond Point and Kucherov combining for four goals, Stamkos, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Ondrej Palat each added a goal for themselves. Anthony Cirelli finished the night with three crucial assists.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was huge for the Lightning, especially in the first half of the game. He stopped 25 of 28 for the victory on a night where the Leafs definitely had the edge in shots and chances. On the flip side, Frederik Andersen was pulled after giving up seven goals on 28 shots in the loss.
In his first game. On his first shot. Point opened the scoring after an opening few minutes where the two sides started to prod at the other’s defense. Two minutes into the game, the Stamkos line was able to get a cycle going that opened up some space in the slot. Point grabbed a rebound, out-muscled Tyson Barrie, and navigated around a sprawling Frederik Andersen who was hunting for the rebound he gave up.
With Victor Hedman in the penalty box for cross checking, the lethal Maple Leafs power play got to work. On their zone entry, Auston Matthews slid into an open area and swung a reverse pass to Andreas Johnsson, whose one-timer beat Andrei Vasilevskiy on the far side.
The Lightning were able to sustain some pressure for the next few minutes, meaning they were in the offensive zone while the Leafs were trying to get the puck. Since the Leafs didn’t have the puck, Jake Muzzin felt the need to do this to Mathieu Joseph. It didn’t help them get the puck — which is the aim of the game — so it didn’t exactly help, but that’s just my opinion.
Kasperi Kapanen was able to get away from Victor Hedman in the corner and set up Justin Holl (Crunch fans will remember him) for a shot from the point. Tavares was in front with Mikhail Sergachev in his way, but he was able to get out of the check and tip the puck down and past Vasilevskiy for his first goal of the season.
The Lightning went on the power play when fourth-line center Jason Spezza got called for slashing. Point got a chance from the slot early but he missed slightly a little too much to the left. Eventually, the Leafs got the puck and Ilya Mikheyev was able to get away for a break with Marner. Marner tried to pass to Mikheyev but the pass was cut off by Hedman high in the defensive zone slot.
Cirelli cleaned Marner’s kitchen in the faceoff dot and perfectly set up Kucherov for his second goal of the season. This goal really shows the fine margins that exist in hockey. Mikheyev was very close to deflecting the Kucherov shot at the source. Then again, Andersen had to move to his left right after the point shot, any longer with it and he likely would’ve had the shot to his far post.
Shattenkirk just walked all the way around Morgan Rielly and beat Andersen like it was nothing. That’s it. That’s the play.
Kapanen hooked Shattenkirk in the next minute to send the Lightning to another power play. The Lightning got a lot of good looks thanks to good puck recovery and relentless pressure on the penalty killers. Stamkos and Point both had chances but Stammer missed the net on the short side and Point’s shot from the slot was blocked by Muzzin in front of the net.
Going one way, Sergachev hit the post, going back the other way, William Nylander had his rush shot go off the knob of the stick of Vasilevskiy. Once the Leafs were in the zone, a broken shot from the side boards bounced off Vasilevskiy’s glove where Matthews picked it up and buried it home on the backhand.
Once again on the power play, Kucherov, then Point, then Cirelli each reversed a pass through the slot and eventually to Stamkos for one of his patented one-timers that beat a moving Andersen clean to the right side of the net. This was Stamkos’ third goal of the season and it came less than 90 seconds after the Matthews goal.
That firewagon of a first period ended up being quite even in terms of shot measures. Shot attempts were 16 apiece at 5v5, total shots were 14-13 for Tampa (7-10 at 5v5). Scoring chances were 6-10 in Toronto’s favour at 5v5 as well. The Leafs were generally the better team at even strength, but the Lightning used three drawn penalties to keep up and pull ahead in goals.
Brayden Point was fantastic in his first period of the season. One goal, one assist, 5 shots, 5 scoring chances, and even shot share at 5v5 against an equally dangerous offense.
Numbers after 1 for TB v TOR. Normal period of ice hockey. pic.twitter.com/VMIojtT861— Alan (getting murdered in a giallo) (@loserpoints) October 11, 2019
Yanni Gourde and Mathieu Joseph collided, Matty was very shook up but eventually got up off the ice and headed to the bench. Joseph did not leave the game and was available for his next shift.
Alexander Kerfoot and his line went one way with a rush but got stopped by a mass of bodies in front. Anthony Cirelli responded himself and nearly got a low shot past Andersen but settled for an offensive zone faceoff.
During a rare lull in the play, Acting the Fulemin from our sister site Pension Plan Puppets came up with this amazing self-own. Self-deprecating humor is the best humor.
Marner giving point a free puck there just like he gave Point a disproportionately high contract comparable, and as before Point doesn't make use of it— Acting the Fulemin (@ATFulemin) October 11, 2019
Brayden Point took the long way, but he walked around Cody Ceci and redirected a perfect shot-pass from Nikita Kucherov and in. Point started the rush, but deferred the puck to Stamkos as he made his way around the zone and darted to the front of the net. Ceci tried to follow him, but got overtaken as the two approached the blue paint and Point made no mistake on the open tip.
Despite the lone goal scored in the period came from a Lightning stick, the Leafs torched the Bolts in the second period. 5v5 shot attempts were 12-26, shots 10-11, and scoring chances 5-12. Both sides were getting to the front of the net, but the Leafs were simply getting much more volume from that area as well as all over the ice.
By this time, the Tampa Bay Rays were down 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth. Sorry, Alan.
Numbers after 2. Don't have a quippy caption. Blame Gerrit Cole. pic.twitter.com/rlXrmKxqiI— Alan (getting murdered in a giallo) (@loserpoints) October 11, 2019
Point came out of the gate in the third very, hunting for that hat-trick goal in his season debut. He nearly got it when he exploded up the right wing and fired a shot to the short side of Andersen, who stopped it with the glove.
As the Lightning came into the zone, Cirelli dumped the puck off the referee and Ondrej Palat was able to take possession with space. He tried a centering pass to Alex Killorn, but it bounced off Kapanen and in. A lucky goal, but that doesn’t make it count any less.
Kucherov got called for a hooking penalty away from the puck in the offensive zone, but the Lightning were able to kill off the penalty quite easily. After two minutes, Kuch came out of the box and he joined Stamkos in the offensive zone for a little fun time. From the slot, Stamkos set up his buddy for a one-timer that beat Andersen through the five-hole and in. At this point, Andersen was pulled for backup Michael Hutchinson.
Kapanen and Cernak started shoving each other in the Lightning zone, that’s something to watch in future games.
By this point in the game, things were pretty much done and dusted. A few Bolts tried to get some more goals to pad their stats, but they weren’t giving up much of consequence. The Leafs appeared to have given up.
And as the clock ticked down, the bottoms of the lineup tried to have some fun, but no one had it in them to actually convert. Lightning win!
- Brayden Point. Wow, what a return from injury. Sure, a lot of his offense came on the power play, but he was dynamic at even strength (six shot attempts and five scoring chances at even-strength) and centered the top line to perfection. To start the game, he went up against the Tavares line, but was swapped to the Kerfoot third line after it became clear he was ruining that line’s life.
- Kevin Shattenkirk. His goal was very incredible, and at 5v5, he kept the ice at 50% shots despite taking on tough defensive zone starts with Braydon Coburn. Five shot attempts that ranged from the front of the net (1), to the faceoff dots (2), to the point (2).
- I want to give this one to Anthony Cirelli. I know he was last in on-ice shot share in this game, but he kept scoring chances to a minimum and had a three-assist night. We know Cirelli is generally a very good shot share player, so one blip where he gets three assists isn’t the biggest of deals.
Bonus star goes to Heddy, who played in his 700th game!