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Lightning Grades - Montreal vs Tampa Bay

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The Big Cat reigned supreme while the Lightning won their fifth straight.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Andrei Vasilevskiy made franchise history last night. Nikita Kucherov continued to score points, and the Tampa Bay Lightning have now won five straight and are 7-1-2 over their last 10 games. In those 10 games, the Lightning have outscored their opposition 32-18 (omitted shootout goals) and have posted three shutouts.


Team Grades

5-on-5 - Great

Score effects took control in the Dallas game after the Lightning’s offensive explosion. Not the case tonight as Tampa Bay controlled 59.3% of the shot attempts at 5v5 and 53% of the scoring chances. Montreal kept up for two periods, but their third period wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Lightning.

Power-Play - Good

One for four this evening with some chances. Not a lot of shots connected on the man advantage though. A lot of missed and deflected shots. Those things happen though. Still, Kucherov’s rocket of a one-timer was a beautiful goal.

Penalty Kill - Great

Montreal’s power-play isn’t especially good this season, which is odd given the offensive talent they have, but whenever you blank a team in the special teams department it’s a good thing.


Player Grades

The fans chose Andrei Vasilevskiy for this game and I completely agree with them. Kucherov, Stamkos, and Gourde were all great, but Vasilevskiy was king tonight.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy - 20 saves, 1.00 save sercentage, 1 franchise record setting shutout

Back-to-back shutouts, fifth in his last 14 starts. sixth of the season, and a franchise record setting 18th of his career. The Big Cat, folks.

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Nikita Kucherov - TOI 23:11, three shots, one goal, one assist

Kucherov wasn’t as dominant as he was last game, but he was still the best forward on the ice between either team. He added two points to push his season total to 94 and his lead over second place Patrick Kane sits at seven. There are 23 games left. Can Kucherov keep up his ridiculous pace?

Yanni Gourde - TOI 17:53, three shots, one goal, one middle finger to Max Domi

Gourde was buzzing all game with his forecheck. He stood his ground in front of the Montreal net and then retaliated when Max Domi jumped on him from behind by throwing Domi down on the ice. The two exchanged pleasantries in the penalty box, but Gourde got the last laugh when he sniped one past Price to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead. Gourde stuck to playing hockey while Montreal regressed to nonsense in the third period.

Steven Stamkos - TOI 19:53, one shot, two assists

The Captain was really good this evening. He set up the pass for Kucherov and Tyler Johnson’s goal and was a factor throughout the game. His one shot came on the power-play when his one-timer was thwarted by Carey Price.

Erik Cernak - TOI 17:48, seven shots, three hits

Cernak was a machine last night. Smart pinches, good reads, imposing physical presence, and a no nonsense approach to the shenanigans Montreal tried baiting Tampa Bay into. The more I watch him play, the more I love his playstyle.

Victor Hedman - TOI 24:13, four shots, three blocked shots

The Big Swede had another great game in all three zones. Didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he was ever present anytime Montreal tried to generate anything. You know what’s scary about Hedman? I don’t think he’s at his best yet this season.

Brayden Point - TOI 20:29, five shots, one assist

Point was everywhere this evening. He only managed an assist but he was driving the net and causing all kinds of problems for Montreal in the neutral and offensive zones. He wasn’t his best last night, but he was plenty effective.

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Tyler Johnson - TOI 14:28, three shots, two one goals

Johnson was fine this evening. His goal was a great shot, but outside of that I felt he was just normal tonight. Nothing outstanding just normal Tyler Johnson—which isn’t a bad thing. The overturned goaltender interference call was a bummer, but he got it back on a 2-on-1 later on.

Ondrej Palat - TOI 17:05, one shot, assists

Same as Johnson. Palat was Palat this evening. He received the secondary assist on both of his points last night and only the first one felt impactful. The rest of his game was good.

Mikhail Sergachev - TOI 17:00, two shots

He wasn’t as flashy as he was in Dallas, but Sergachev was still good last night. His confidence has really come around since the All-Star break and it’s showing at both ends of the ice.

Ryan McDonagh - TOI 19:16, one shot

Steady. His role has clearly changed since he was carrying the load defensively earlier in the season and he’s been just fine. Good pinches, smart reads, and great gap control. Nothing flashy from McDonagh tonight, but as effective as ever.

Anton Stralman - TOI 17:16

Echoes of McDonagh. Stralman’s most memorable play was keeping Andrew Shaw offside during play that eventually led to a whistle being blown. It was a humorous moment that I’m not sure many caught.

J.T. Miller - TOI 13:05, one shot

Had a great chance on a breakaway but pushed it wide. Aside from that, Miller was fine last night. A bit surprised at the low ice-time though.

Anthony Cirelli - TOI 13:38, one shot

Solid performance from Cirelli. The scrum at the end that gave him a misconduct was deserved even if Shaw was the one who started it.

Dan Girardi - TOI 16:53, two shots

If Dan Girardi is invisible for majority of the game, that’s a good thing. His penalty was unfortunate, but what can you do? “G” was fine last night.

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Alex Killorn - TOI 14:28

Killorn wasn’t his best last night. He wasn’t bad, but I felt like he wasn’t feeling it during the game. It’s a shame because he was fantastic against Dallas. The ebb and flow of the season I suppose.

Mathieu Joseph - TOI 9:19, one shot

I’m unsure if he’s lost some trust of the coaching staff (and I’m NOT positing that is the case, it was probably just how the game went), but nine minutes of ice-time when the vast majority of the game was played at 5v5 is odd for what he brings to the table. His biggest contribution was a one-timer that was stopped by Carey Price.

Cedric Paquette - TOI 10:17, two shots

Paquette struggled at times, especially in the defensive zone. Offensively, he was fine in my eyes, but too often I saw him pinned in his own end. Off night for a player who’s usually always churning.

Adam Erne - TOI 9:44, two hits

The only times Erne stood out this evening were when he was boarded by Nicolas Deslauriers then subsequently chirped by Nate Thompson for some reason, and when Dale Weise went after him in the neutral zone. If Erne’s sole purpose in last night’s game was to get under the skin of Montreal and goad them into really stupid plays then he deserves all five marks, but I thought he was rather “eh” last night.


Highlight of the Night

What a rocket of a shot by Kucherov here.

Overall Feel of the Game

I’m annoyed that Montreal turned a great 40 minutes of back and forth hockey into an eye-rolling mess for the final 20. They seemed intent on taking stupid penalties for the sake of “being tough” or whatever nonsense they’ll say. They could’ve stuck to playing their game, which was keeping them neck and neck with Tampa Bay, and been in a great position to win. Instead, it was the Lightning who stuck to their game-plan and came out with a 3-0 victory.