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Nikita Kucherov puts up four points in Lightning’s comeback win over the Red Wings

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Another four point game? How derivative.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Detroit Red Wings
Mar 14, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) skates with the puck against Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser (65) during the first period at Little Caesars Arena.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning started off slowly, getting down three goals to their adversaries the Detroit Red Wings. However, as the game went on, the team stuck to their game plan — which mostly comes down to out-shooting their opponent and hoping Nikita Kucherov gets a lot of those chances — and came away with a 5-4 victory on the road.

Nikita Kucherov scored twice, and assisted on two more for his eighth four-point night of the season. 115 points in total. He even assisted on Steven Stamkos’ 383rd career goal, which tied Vincent Lecavalier for first all-time in Tampa Bay Lightning history. It wasn’t a great night for Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was looking squirrelly for much of the night and never looked comfortable, but was still able to get the win by stopping 23 of 27 shots.

First Period

0-1

Right out of the box, it was clear the the Red Wings were more awake than the Lightning. They weren’t as talented, but they did well to get in the way in their own zone, stopping the Lightning from getting to the front of the net, along with getting to rebounds and cycle plays first in the Lightning end.

That was exactly what happened on the first goal. Starting one way, the Lightning tried to get something going in the offensive zone, but were stopped at the perimeter and were forced to give the puck up. From there, the Red Wings dumped the puck into the offensive zone and Christoffer Ehn was given enough space to grab a loose puck, send it to the point for Madison Bowey, who tossed the puck through the bodies in front for the games opening goal. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had no idea where the puck was. How the Red Wings were able to get a hold of rebounds and get their players in the shooting lane for a screen is definitely a question the defense (including the forwards) needs to ask themselves after that goal.

0-2

Not long after, the Red wings got called for playing with six guys on the ice, but even the power play failed to produce anything positive for the Lightning. Granted, the first unit was able to get chances for themselves, namely a chance by Stamkos off a faceoff, but none of their shots hit the net or could get by Jimmy Howard. Then, after a miscue near the point, Darren Helm was able to strip J.T. Miller of the puck and shoot down the ice on a 2-on-1 with Adam Glendening and only Nikita Kucherov back (he was trying to get off). Vasilevskiy looked really small on this play, and his over compensation for the pass or a shot up high opened up his five-hole for Helm to score in.

Just like a lot of the first half of the period, there was no support from the forwards to come back and backcheck; only Victor Hedman came back to help. Even before the goal, the Lightning were way too spread out as a unit. I think a lot of this came from the quick-up by Kucherov to try and catch the forecheckers off guard. But I think with too many players deep in the offensive zone without proper possession and the rest trying to get off the ice, it was a recipe for disaster. I know a power play is only two minutes long, but there was really no reason to rush.

The second half of the first period was a lot better for the Lightning, especially a shift by the third line with about six minutes left. The third line was all over the offensive zone, playing the style we come to know and adore with the Lightning. They were making bold passes through the slot and moving players with perfect timing to create open lanes and offense. Anthony Cirelli got the first big chance from the slot that Howard had to parry away with the pad, but at that point the defense for the Red Wings was scrambling. A few passes later, Mathieu Joseph found himself open enough to get another shot from near the hash-marks. He hit the crossbar. That third lined paired with Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev helped develop a lot of momentum in the Bolts’ favour, which they carried for the rest of the period.

Until, of course, first period came to a close and after the whistle the Red Wings tried to goon up the Lightning with Danny DeKeyser going after Kucherov and Anthony Mantha going after Erik Cernak.

After One

It was a really slow start for the Lightning, but the latter 10 minutes of the period turned the shot share data on its head. The Lightning were ahead in 5v5 shot attempts (25-10), shots (9-5), and scoring chances (9-2). The heat map of where the shots came from showed that the Lightning were pretty much only shooting from near the net or right in the middle of the blueline. In other words, the two best places to shoot from.

Second Period

0-3

Right out of the box, the Red Wings extended their lead. Glendening got the puck in the corner of his own zone and threw it into the neutral zone. Justin Abdelkader was able to get a step on Cedric Paquette before driving the net and beating Vasilevskiy on the backhand.

A few minutes later, the Red Wings’ top line got some time in the Lightning zone. They weren’t too effective at the start, but the more they got a shot off and won a rebound, the more the Lightning fell out of sorts. It was a real snowball effect, and by the end of the shift, we had seen Andreas Athanasiou miss a wide open net (because Vasy had to fly out of his net to stop the initial shot), and the referees with their hands up because Braydon Coburn got caught for hooking a guy. The penalty kill was good, but the Vasilevskiy still had to make a handful of tough stops. The Wings were doing a good job of playing to their game-plan: taking the puck to the net and hoping for something to happen.

3-1

The Lightning got their second chance at a power play midway through the second period when Filip Hronek got called for interference. Unfortunately, they gave up a 2-on-1 almost immediately. But after getting their composure back, Miller was able to find Stamkos all alone near the front of the net with space, which he used to great advantage to score his 383rd career goal, tying Vincent Lecavalier. I guess that was okay.

After Two

The second period was also good for the Lightning but they did a worse job of covering the front of the net for shots. At 5v5, the shot attempts were 20-14, the shots were 12-9, but the scoring chances were tied at eight.

Third Period

2-3

The Bolts got a desperately-needed goal early in the third when Brayden Point scored his 38th of the season. Kucherov got the play going with a great play to get the puck out of the corner and find Stamkos at the opposite faceoff dot with a pass. Stamkos immediately redirected the puck right to Point in the slot whose one-timer snuck past Howard and into the net. The deadly triangle worked!

3-3

Former Bolt Luke Witkowski took a puck over the glass penalty about eight minutes into the third period, and right off the faceoff, Nikita Kucherov scored his 34th goal of the season. It was a quick series of four plays starting with Stamkos winning the faceoff to Point on his right. From there, Point sent the puck back to Hedman at the point (hehe). During this time, Kucherov had moved from the middle of the ice to the far side near the right-side faceoff dot. Hedman set him up for a one-timer that Kuch blasted past Howard.

4-3

Barely a few minutes later, the Lightning took the lead off a tip in front by Tyler Johnson. The Lightning were all over the Red Wings on this shift, but if it wasn’t for Johnson making a heroic play to take control of the puck behind the net and get the puck to the point for Cernak, he wouldn’t have been able to tip that shot past Howard in front of the net a few seconds later.

5-3

This Stamkos, Point, Kucherov line has been incredible since it was put together and it came together on this goal as well. All three players were along the boards, fighting for the puck. In the middle, Stamkos got knocked down, but was able to get the puck free to Point above him. Pointer walked to the middle of the ice and noticed Kucherov doing the same, but going right to the front of the net. The two connected and Kuch was able to get the backhand up and over Howard’s shoulder.

5-4

Late in the game, and with the Wings net empty, Thomas Vanek was able to get his hands on a somewhat broken pass from the point and get the puck on net. There was a scramble in front and Rasmussen was able to beat Sergachev, Hedman, and Ondrej Palat to the rebound and score. The Wings tried to put up a bit more of a fight after that goal, but there wasn’t much to be had and the Lightning ended up winning the game by the one-goal margin.


Next up for the Lightning are the Washington Capitals on Saturday night. The game will start a few minutes after 7:00 pm at AMALIE Arena. Please join us on Twitter and in the comments of our game preview article for all the action!