It was an easy-going scrimmage for the Tampa Bay Lightning, as they dispatched the Florida Panthers on Wednesday afternoon by a score of 5-0. Brayden Point led the way with two goals and two assists, Nikita Kucherov scored twice and an assist, and Luke Schenn (!) also added a goal for the Bolts. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 26 shots he faced for his first career pre-playoffs shutout. That’s a stat that will probably never be broken.
It was a cakewalk for the Lightning, who didn’t face very much of a competition from the Panthers. They were better in all three zones; preventing shots defensively, getting to the front of the net offensively, perfect on the penalty kill, and a goal on the power play. It was about as perfect of a tune-up as one could ask. No injuries, too!
Brayden Point was alive early in the game, getting a great chance in front of the net, and converting on a second chance a few minutes later. The Panthers defense was scrambling to get into position as Kucherov and Point calmly string a pass together and Point tapped the puck into the open net.
Brayden Point puts the Lightning up 1-0 pic.twitter.com/fXxCmcVrjP— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) July 29, 2020
Points! Point had his second goal of the game just before the period came to an end off a brilliant rush where he, again, just beat everyone around him. Mike Matheson could do nothing following the stretch pass from Kevin Shattenkirk.
Brayden Point gets another one. 2-0 Lightning pic.twitter.com/rLGKdvIhtM— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) July 29, 2020
Brayden Point four brilliant chances, three of them right in front of the net, and he scored on two of them. The Lightning owned the ice in the first period, leading in 5v5 shot attempts (15-9), shots (9-6), and scoring chances (9-6).
The Lightning got a power play early in the second period and Kucherov made no mistake with a one-timer through Matheson again and Sergei Bobrovsky. Mikhail Sergachev was manning the point on that goal, while Point got the secondary assist.
Nikita Kucherov makes it 3-0 on the PP for the Lightning with a bullet pic.twitter.com/dywwnE6zPn— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) July 29, 2020
Go home, Panthers, you got scored on by Luke Schenn. But seriously, how do you get three players below the goal line and all five looking the wrong way? Amazing. Assists went to Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde on this goal.
Luke Schenn skates in and gets one past Bobrovsky. 4-0 Lightning pic.twitter.com/NkEWkPF6Lj— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) July 29, 2020
In a GIF, this was the second period:
Point and Kucherov watching the damage pic.twitter.com/ScbIpV7OvL— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) July 29, 2020
The third period was mostly bland, apart from this sweet goal in the middle of the frame. Point and Kucherov turned a 2-on-3 into a 2-on-0 and Kucherov tapped home his second of the game.
Things got a little rough later in the game, but nothing too wild. The Panthers were embarrassed and wanted to leave the game with at least an ounce of flesh, so they gooned it up a bit. Not like fighting is an act of ability in hockey anymore. The quicker the Lightning get out of the rink, the better.
- Penalty kill, Cirelli/Goodrow looked very aggressive, defense were getting down to block shots. All the Lightning really needed to do was stop Hoffman, who takes the vast majority of shots on the Panthers power play, and they did it flawlessly. The Lightning were perfect on the PK, obviously, but they looked aggressive and organized, which is all you can ask for in a scrimmage-type game against an awful power play team.
Cirelli outworks Hoffman to get down ice and nearly sets up a pair of chances pic.twitter.com/cY78mQR9yK— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) July 29, 2020
- Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov came to play and it’s really relieving that they’re cooking right off the bat. They were simply the two best players on the ice by a fair margin and they used their speed, skill, and tenacity to score themselves some goals. I’m not worried about the top of this lineup getting hot at the right/wrong time at all. They look dialed in.
- The defense was solid, for the most part. I don’t think the bottom four defensemen had a very good game (Schenn, Rutta, Bogosian, Coburn), but the Lightning only really need one of them to work to ice a lineup. The top four were excellent with Hedman tonight. Sergachev is a genuine #1 for most teams and Shattenkirk was playing an exquisite two-way game.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy didn’t have to do much, but when he did he was there. He’s going to be facing two division winners and the Flyers next week, so we’ll probably get a better idea of his level during those games.
The Lightning have the rest of the week off until they play the Washington Capitals on Monday, it’s a 4pm start at Scotiabank Arena and the game will be broadcast on NBCSN nationally in the US and on Sportsnet 360 in Canada. Fox Sports Sun will also have the game.