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Tampa Bay Lightning Recap: Nikita Kucherov injured as Bolts forced to Game 7

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Playoff hockey is, well I don’t know what it is after tonight.

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders - Game Six
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JUNE 23: Anthony Cirelli #71 of the Tampa Bay Lightning scores a goal past Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders during the second period in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Semifinals during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on June 23, 2021 in Uniondale, New York.
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning will be heading back to Florida after a Game 6 loss to the New York Islanders. After jumping to a 2-0 lead in a fairly normal game, the Lightning ended up losing 3-2 in overtime after struggling through cheap shots, awful penalty calls, including a missed call on the tying goal. They almost won the game in spite of all of that, but the Islanders had all the advantages to win.

In the game, cheap shots to Nikita Kucherov and Ross Colton forced both players out of the game, with the Lightning losing Kucherov for all but one shift. His absence was felt, though Brayden Point still found a way to score and Anthony Cirelli scored two points after being adopted by the first line.

Andrei Vasilevskiy probably wanted one of this goals back, as he stopped 25 of 28 in the loss.

Game 7 is Friday at 8pm on all the regular channels.

First Period

On his first shift, the Lightning lost Nikita Kucherov to a cross check by Adam Pelech. It was away from the puck and pretty unnecessary, and it took Kucherov down for a few seconds. He got back up and tried to hit Mat Barzal, but it was a very cautious hit. He left down the tunnel after that first shift and didn’t return to the game.

1-0

BRAAYYYYYYDENNN POINTTTTTTTTT. This year’s MVP (yeah I said it) gets the Lightning on the board first with a hard-working goal started from behind the net with his new winger Anthony Cirelli. Even without his wingman, Point is still scoring.

With his goal, Point is one game behind Reggie Leach for the all-time playoff goal streak record. Yeah, all time. Better than Gretzky, Beliveau, Richard, Lemieux, the whole nine yards.

Point also tied his own franchise record for most goals in the playoffs.

After One

5v5 Stats

  • Shot attempts: 16-20 (44%)
  • Shots on goal: 6-7
  • Scoring chances: 8-5
  • Expected goals: 0.58-0.46 (56%)

Thoughts:

Without Kucherov, Point and Palat rotated with a host of players from the roster. They played with Johnson, Stamkos, Gourde, Coleman, and then Cirelli when the goal happened. Cirelli got a second shift with the top line after the goal, so that could potentially be the new top line with Gourde moving up to 2C.

I should also mention the goal is Point’s 69th career playoff point, tying him with Martin St. Louis.

Second Period

Vasilevskiy started the period in fine form, saving a couple shots off the rush. The Lightning did a good job of making those chances one-and-done and not letting the Islanders maintain any pressure.

Johnson had a chance the other way, but Cizikas jumped him as the two entered the slot. Stamkos had another chance from a low-high play but couldn’t quite get his stick on the puck.

Ross Colton then got injured by Matt Martin with a hard hit into the boards away from the play. Later that shift, Clutterbuck and Cizikas started throwing haymakers at Sergachev and Schenn. None of the Lightning retaliated, and Clutterbuck got the minor penalty. Barry Trotz was giving the Pikachu meme from the bench. Yeah guy, your pest started it and was the only one that did anything.

https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/surprised-pikachu

Then the refs gave Hedman and Sergachev a pair of really weak calls and suddenly the Lightning were down a man. Jon Cooper was irate as none of those plays were getting called before the Clutterbuck penalty.

Kyle Palmieri missed two shots and had his third blocked by Rutta. Vasilevskiy stopped Pulock and the Lightning were out of the woods. Cirelli had another big block at the tail-end of the 5-on-3. Hedman came back on, and then Sergachev, and they got out of something they never should have been put in.

2-0

ANTHONY MANTHONY CIRELLI!!!! BREAKAWAY GOAL THROUGH THE FIVE HOLE! Minutes after killing those two penalties, Ondrej Palat fires a stretch pass up to Cirelli, who only had one defender on him. Cirelli beat the guy, and snapped a shot from in tight through the five hole under Varlamov. That’s 12 unanswered goals for the Lightning.

Oh no how terrrrible!

2-1

Eberle tied the game with a rush chance, but I want to direct your attention to Alex Killorn. There’s a stick wrapped around his glove, that’s interesting. Barzal pulled him down and opened up the shooting lane? Funny how that worked out for them.

The Islanders made a real push in the final eight minutes of the period that the Lightning weathered really well. In the final couple minutes the Lightning got themselves out of the defensive zone and had a couple chances.

After Two

5v5 Stats

  • Shot attempts: 16-14 (53%)
  • Shots on goal: 9-9
  • Scoring chances: 5-6
  • Expected goals: 0.43-0.39 (53%)

Thoughts:

In the end, despite the big push from the Islanders, the Lightning led in shot attempts and expected goals. It was a tight game the whole way, but that worked for the Lightning since they’re ahead.

Scott Mayfield hammered Stamkos into the glass in the final few seconds of the period, starting a melee, and 4v4 hockey to start the third.

It seemed pretty obvious the Islanders were going down taking as many Lightning with them as possible.

Third Period

Killorn got a penalty for hooking and the Lightning had to kill another penalty. Vasilevskiy made some sharp saves and Gourde laid out for a huge block.

2-2

Mayfield tied the game with a shot off the crossbar to tie the game.

Martin got a penalty (finally). It took a minute before the Lightning could get in the zone, but once they did they generated several good chances. However, the loss of Kucherov was very obvious with Palat on the wing instead. He just wasn’t a shooting threat and didn’t move the puck as fast, naturally.

And we head to overtime.

After Three

5v5 Stats

  • Shot attempts: 8-13 (38%)
  • Shots on goal: 3-7
  • Scoring chances: 4-7
  • Expected goals: 0.42-0.52 (44%)

Thoughts:

The Lightning were worse in the third period and the Islanders took advantage to tie the game. The power play really missed Kucherov. The offense got close a couple times, and they still had the talent to score without their second best player, but it just didn’t happen.

Overtime

2-3

Beauvillier scores off a turnover a minute into overtime and we head to Tampa for Game 7.

Takeaways

Full Game 5v5 Stats

  • Shot attempts: 40-49 (45%)
  • Shots on goal: 18-24
  • Scoring chances: 17-18
  • Expected goals: 1.43-1.43 (50%)

Thoughts:

Assorted Expletives. We’ll have some deeper thoughts about this loss in the morning.