The Tampa Bay Lightning scored a brace early, then used a three-goal flurry in the second period to put the game out of reach. In doing so they picked up their third straight win with a 6-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday night. Ian Cole, Erik Cernak, Corey Perry, Brayden Point, Ross Colton, and Steven Stamkos picked up the goals for the Lightning while Nikita Kucherov had three assists. Mikhail Sergachev, Victor Hedman, and Anthony Cirelli each had two helpers. Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, Andrei Vasilevskiy had another strong night between the pipes as he stopped 36 of 38 shots.
Vlad Namestnikov was scratched and Coach Cooper went to the 11/7 line-up with Haydn Fleury rotating in, giving him a chance to play against his brother, Cale, for the third time in his NHL career.
The Opening Frame
It was the first line that drew first blood just 91 seconds (hey that’s Stamkos’ number!) into the game as Ian Cole wristed a shot towards the net that Nikita Kucherov, gliding through the crease, looked like he might have tipped. It was originally credited to him, but upon review he didn’t touch it and the goal credited to Cole. Brandon Hagel made several nice plays on the shift that led to the goal.
Ian Cole ( Brandon Hagel, Nikita Kucherov) 1-0 Lightning
The Bolts were skating really well and Seattle was giving them way too much space in the neutral zone. That allowed the home team to attack with speed and drive back the Kraken defenders. With space in the neutral zone, Tampa Bay was able to set up their offense and keep the defense scrambling.
With all of that pressure it was only a matter of time until they doubled their lead. This time it was Point providing the initial thrust, opening up space for Erik Cernak to rip one past the goaltender.
Erik Cernak (Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov) 2-0 Lightning
With about nine minutes to go in the period, the Kraken finally spent some extended time in the Lightning zone. It was, of course, the Matty Beniers line. They worked a pretty good cycle up high to maintain possession in an attempt to get the Lightning out of position. Tampa Bay held their positions fairly well and Vasilevskiy was able to squeeze the puck tightly when Andre Burakovsky tried to sneak it past him on the short side.
Seattle did settle down a bit as the period went on and the game evened out a bit, but the Bolts were doing an excellent job of keeping things to the outside. Unfortunately, a bit of bad luck led to a late goal for Seattle. Cole drifted into the Kraken zone and attempted a shot from the half boards that was blocked by Jordan Eberle. That allowed Seattle to break out with a 2-on-1 and Jared McCann buried it.
Jared McCann (Jordan Eberle) 2-1 Lightning
While the shot counter had things pretty even, the Lightning dominated the scoring chances by a tune of 16-6 with a 9-0 edge in high-danger chances. The below graphic from Natural Stat Trick shows how good the Bolts were at keeping Vasilevskiy’s crease clean.
The Period of the Long Change
Just 50 seconds into the period, the refs called their first penalty of the game. Vince Dunn went to the box as he pivoted Killorn to the ice with his left arm. It could have been interference, but they decided on holding. The top-five Lightning power play against the bottom-five Kraken penalty kill. Seattle killed it off despite a late shot from Killorn that rang the pipe behind Phillipp Grubauer.
Tampa Bay wasn’t as clean with the puck as they had been in the first period and it stalled their offense a bit. Turnovers in the their own zone and bad line changes led to a couple of solid opportunities for the Kraken, but Vasilevskiy was up to snuff and kept the puck out. He was controlling his rebounds and catching pucks cleanly when needed.
A Brandon Tanev trip of Haydn Fleury dulled the Kraken momentum (they had the previous five shots on goal). It was not a great start to the power play as the Lightning struggled to enter the zone, or even maintain possession of the puck. Just as a few boos emerged from the restless crowd, Corey Perry improvised off of a blocked passing attempt by, well, shooting the puck instead. Through a maze of legs the puck eluded Grubauer and the Lightning were back up by two goals.
Corey Perry (Ross Colton, Mikhail Sergachev ) Power Play, 3-1 Lightning
Then, in a flash, the lead was three.
Brayden Point. That is all.
Brayden Point (Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman) 4-1 Lightning
That’s 10% luck, 80% skill, 10% concentrated power of will. That was also the end of Grubauer’s night.
So in comes Martin Jones. And Mikhail Sergachev greeted him with a hard shot on net that he never saw. Pretty hard for Jones to make a save when he has a Ross Colton-sized screen in front of him. Not only did he set the screen, he got the deflection. There was an excellent read by Anthony Cirelli to step up and break up the Kraken break-out pass.
Ross Colton (Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli) 5-1 Lightning
Up until the Tanev penalty it was pretty much the Kraken driving play. Heck, through most of the kill they were controlling things. Then Perry threw the puck on net and things changed drastically over the next three minutes. Again, the high-danger chances at 5v5 were in favor of the Bolts (5-3).
The Final Act
In a 5-1 game, the third period is all about closing out strong. It’s also about extracurricular activities as well. Five minutes into the period Ross Colton touched off a skirmish when he hit Gustav Oloffsson with a solid check. It ended with Yanni Gourde facewashing Pat Maroon and multiple players in the penalty box. Yanni is the best (he also picked up a 10-minute misconduct). The Lightning ended up with a power play that was quickly negated when Brandon Hagel was whistled for a high-stick right off the face-off.
Just as the Kraken TV crew mentioned that neither team had scored at 4-on-4 this season, Steven Stamkos made a nice move in front of Jones to pull the puck to his forehand. Jones made the initial stop, but The Captain was able to pop the rebound over him. That’s 14 games in a row with a point for Stamkos, 4 off of the team record (held by Stamkos).
Steven Stamkos (Victor Hedman, Anthony Cirelli) 6-1 Lightning
Hedman made two nice plays on the goal. First he stepped up at the Lightning blueline to break up an entry, then the bump pass from the blue line to Stammer for the assist, his second of the night. That’s four points in the last four games for the Big Swede.
Frustration continued to boil over as Morgan Geekie squared off against the birthday boy, Cal Foote. The two had differences earlier in the game when Geekie slammed Foote to the ice in the Lightning crease. No actual punches landed, but they had a nice, aggressive hugging match. The Kraken did have a brief power play following the tussle and the Bolts killed it off.
They also killed off a full 2:00 minute penalty with about 5 minutes to go in the period. The Kraken had a couple of looks from distance, but nothing overtly threatening. Sergachev did leave the ice after blocking a shot with his hand. So that wasn’t great. At this point, both teams (and their coaches) looked like they wanted the clock to keep moving and get this one over with.
Coach Cooper probably won’t be overly thrilled with the play of the third period as the Kraken had the better run of play and capped it off with a late Ryan Donato goal. He roofed one over Vasilevskiy with just under 5 seconds left.
Ryan Donato (Yanni Gourde) 6-2 Lightning
It would have been nice to end things with only one goal allowed, but it was still a rather convincing victory against a team that had only lost twice on the road so far this season. The Lightning will look to close out the home stand with another win against Columbus on Thursday.