The Tampa Bay Lightning earned a well-deserved 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames in Nikita Kucherov’s return to the lineup, The game also marked Blake Coleman’s return to Amalie Arena. Kuch scored two primary assists in the win, setting up his two familier linemates, Brayden Point and Ondřej Palat, for goals. Corey Perry got the icebreaker and Alex Killorn shut the game down with the fourth. Ryan McDonagh was quietly dominant on defense with partner Erik Cernak, but was rewarded with two assists as well.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 of 27 shots behind a hard-working effort by the Lightning in front of him. On the Flames side, Dan Vladar made 26 saves on 27 shots in the first two periods, but after an explosive third period by the Lightning, he ended the game giving up 4 goals on 33 shots. Credit where it’s due, Vladar had a great game until he gave up three goals on six shots in the first ten minutes of the third period.
The Lightning finished the game with 20 more shot attempts than the Flames, including five posts from Point (x2), Kucherov, Mathieu Joseph, and Steven Stamkos. In reality, this game should’ve had a bigger margin than they did, but they won regardless so it’s fine. Save those goals for another night.
In terms of big performances, you have to shout out the first line of Kucherov-Point-Palat, who combined for 15 shot attempts and two goals in only 12 minutes at 5v5 (19 shots in 17 minutes including power play). Jon Cooper managed the bench really well, evening out the icetime for his fully-healthy forward group.
Y’all gave Kucherov quite a warm welcome as he stepped onto the ice for his first shift.
Kucherov comes on for a faceoff and gets a standing ovation and yells of KKKKUUUUCCCCHHHH!!!!— Raw Charge, a Champa Bay Lightning web site (@RawCharge) January 7, 2022
Y’all also gave our old friend, Blake Coleman, a welcome back. We recorded the video tribute and the AMALIE’s reaction.
Big cheers for Blake Coleman being honored during the first intermission. pic.twitter.com/hHnYvyIlOP— Raw Charge, a Champa Bay Lightning web site (@RawCharge) January 7, 2022
The first big chance of the game for the Lightning came off the stick of You Know Who, who hit the post from the outside off a rebound created by Palat and Point going hard to the net. That first line was a dominant force in the period, taking eight shot attempts in one period alone.
Noah Hanifin checked Boris Katchouk hard into the boards from behind, causing Joseph to immediately come to his defense and fight the big defenseman. It was quite the mismatch but Mojo didn’t back down. Both Hanifin and Joseph got five for fighting, but Joseph got the extra two for instigating.
Joseph hit the post late in the period after he came out from the penalty box, but alas, the game went into the second scoreless.
Credit to the Flames, they did a very good job of attacking the Lightning at the offensive blue line. Just like old friend Coleman, they attack hard with the body and with the stick going to cut off the pass. They did that multiple times to the Lightning’s defensemen, and if you look at the shot map, the Lightning didn’t get much going from the point, a lot of the play had to come from the side of the net and in.
Kucherov hit the post early in the period for his second post of the game. This game should’ve been multiple goals in the Lightning’s favor at this point.
Perry breaks the tie! Seven minutes into the period, Jan Rutta got the puck after pushing into the offensive side of the ice, pushed it forward again to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who made a quick pass to Corey Perry once he noticed Vladar was pushing too far to the right. Perry got the puck, and even in contested circumstances, beat Vladar chasing the other way.
Point hit the post, but I could swear it went in. The play was created off somewhat of a broken play, but while the defense was getting lost on the ice, Palat found the rebound and sent a cross-ice pass all the way to the other side for Point. Point’s shot from the left side went to the right corner of the net. I swear it went in, but it turns out the puck hit the corner of the post and bounced out.
In a turntable moment, Richardson laid a late hit right on the face of Mathieu Joseph and Boris Katchouk came to his teammate’s defense, fighting the Flames forward. The refs reviewed the play for principle point of contact and considered the hit to be targeted. Richardson got a match penalty and a five-minute power play for the Lightning. However, Katchouk was given two minutes for instigating, two of those five minutes into 4v4. The Lightning got a three minute power play afterwards.
If I could change one thing about hockey today: refs should explain what gamestate (5v5, 5v4, etc) whenever they call a penalty.— Hardev (@HardevLad) January 7, 2022
Fans in the stands, broadcasters, even someone paying close attention like me on tv barely understand the results after a fight. #NHL
The Bolts nearly found a goal on the scrum once their power play started, but the puck just got pushed away in the nick of time. Stamkos made it a fourth post for the Lightning later on the power play.
Vladar had a huge period, he kept the Flames in the game against the Bolts, who were 40-20 ahead in shot share. The Lightning were killing it on both sides of the ice and it was Perry’s goal that finally broke through.
Point from a feed from Kucherov! This whole play started with Erik Cernak seeing an opening to the net and driving towards it. He drew some defenders to his position enough for Point to be left completely wide open for Kucherov’s pass to him at the side of the net. After that, it was textbook.
Palat on another feed from Kucherov! After the puck circled around to the back of the net, Kucherov got in front of his defender and found Palat in front of the net for the goal. Point was cutting through the area at the same time, drawing the second defender away.
Killorn makes it four! McDonagh made his second play that resulted in a goal by stopping the Flames attack and sending the puck up to Killorn. From there, it was him and Stamkos who connected on Killorn’s 11th of the season, to give the Lightning a commanding, and well-deserved lead.
There was a big scrum after the goal, with Stamkos and Gaudreau going at it with each other. It only came to minor penalties.
The Flames got a goal at the very end of the game, spoiling Vasilevskiy’s shutout. Dillon Dube scored with about four minutes left in the game with a shot off the wing from a turnover.