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Recap: Bolts complete resilient shootout thriller over Rangers

The NHL’s two top goalies battle it out in a thriller.

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 29: Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates a goal with teammate Steven Stamkos #91 against goalie Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers during the third period at Amalie Arena on December 29, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 45 shots, including four of five in the shootout as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the New York Rangers 2-1 in the shootout. Brayden Point scored the only goal in regulation by the Bolts, but also scored in the shootout alongside Alex Killorn to help give the Lightning the win.

Vasilevskiy was not expected to start this game but was given the go ahead of Brian Elliott after a 25-save win over Montreal the night before. This ended up being the right decision as I don’t think the Lightning would’ve been able to hold back all of New York’s breakaways and rush chances without Vasy and his elite mobility.

Nikita Kucherov led the Lightning in shots with 14, eight on net. On a night where he deserved at least one, all he took home was an assist on Point’s tying goal in the third period. Even in overtime, Kucherov was very close to ending it a couple times. The first line of Kucherov, Point, and Hagel combined for 19 shots on goal of the team’s 40 on the night. They were the engine of the team for sure.

This game was a good example of the Lightning playing their offense in front of the net, while the Rangers made most of their chances through odd-man rushes. Both teams had their stretches of the game where they were dominating, but I found the game to be very even throughout.

On the whole, this was a widely entertaining game. 86 shots between the two teams, penalty call controversy, highly volatile overtime, and excellent saves throughout. I definitely think a shootout was necessary because both goalies were just too good for this game to end. Hard to predict otherwise when Vasilevskiy and Shesterkin go head-to-head.

First Period

Stamkos with the first chance of the game in front of the net from Killorn in a low-high pass from behind the net. Trocheck got a breakaway off a faceoff a couple minutes later, but Vasilevskiy was quick on the poke check as he slid across the front of the net.

0-1

Zibanejad with big shot from the slot opens the scoring. Stamkos tried to get the puck out of a scrum at the side of the net but Zibanejad got a handle on it and wired a puck through Vasilevskiy’s five hole. Unassisted goal.

Then the Lightning got a power play, with Brodzinski going for tripping. Kucherov had his first of many great chances with a clever move to the middle of the ice via a zone entry, but just missed the shot on the short side high.

Cernak Injury

Cernak left the bench with a minute left to go in the period after taking a hard hit from Samuel Blais. He came back for one shift early in the second period but didn’t take a shift after that. No update from the team at the time of this posting, but this could be a concussion.

After One

Both sides quickly figured out what the other was trying to do offensively (and then for the rest of the game just let it happen). The Lightning were getting chances in tight but were struggling to finish. The Rangers were getting chances off the rush but were struggling to complete passes, hit the net, or beat Vasilevskiy.

Second Period

1-1 called back

Hagel thinks he scores, but the Rangers are complaining! Oh. My. God. Hagel pulled the puck out from the breadbasket of Shesterkin and essentially threw the puck in the net. Yeah, that’s not allowed. The official call was about throwing the puck in the net, but if a Ranger had done that to Vasy I’m sure I’d be thinking about a goalie interference call or something. Wow, that was audacious.

Perbix and Cole both took penalties in the second, though the Lightning probably deserved some calls as well (I don’t mean deserve as their play was good but in that they literally got obstructed without calls). The Lightning killed both on a night where their power play was critical to the win. Going down by two would’ve been catastrophic.

After Two

The Lightning struggled in the second period to hold back the Rangers, especially on the rush. There were breakaways and two-on-ones, none of the things you’d like to see as the Lightning defenders. Nevertheless, it was a very entertaining, although frustrating with the lack of penalty calls for the Lightning.

Third Period

Stamkos smashed post early in the third as the Lightning had their cycle going and owned a lot of the shots. The graphic at the beginning of the recap definitely shows the back and forth-ness of the game. The Lightning were very good in the third, and weathered storms while shorthanded.

1-1

Kucherov hits the post — but the puck comes around to Stamkos and Point scores!!! The Lightning were frantic in the offensive zone as they pushed for a tying goal. Between two line chances, Stamkos got out with Kucherov and Point. The three connected on a slick passing play that for most players went one pass too far, but Stamkos found Point all alone and he fumbled the puck into the net for the tying game.

This goal also was a milestone for Point, who’s been one of the hottest scorers in the NHL right now.

Cirelli had a huge chance in front of the net in the final few minutes of regulation, sliding the rebound through the blue paint while falling onto his back.

Missed penalty call on Kucherov as he fell trying to go up the middle. It wasn’t the first miss of the night for the refs. Schneider was literally holding him and pulling him down.

After Three

Overtime

Trocheck with a short side chance that Vasilevskiy stole.

Kucherov all alone but he was stopped with the pad by Shesterkin!

Panarin all alone but Vasy robs him!

A late call on Hedman for tripping on a very very very light call. Outrageous, especially considering what wasn’t being called in the game prior. The Lightning have to kill a penalty in 3v3.

Massive, massive kill from the Lightning over those two minutes, especially from Cirelli, Sergachev, and Bellemare for their blocked passes and shots.

Stamkos got away for a break once the ice was leveled but was stopped with the glove.

Shootout

TBL: Stamkos... stopped trying to go around the outside.

NYR: Trocheck... stopped through the five hole!

TBL: Point... SCORES!!! Up the middle, no guff, top shelf.

NYR: Zibanejad... stopped with the glove!

TBL: Kucherov... stopped with the poke check.

NYR: Panarin... scores on the short side.

TBL: Colton... stopped with the blocker.

NYR: Kakko... hits the post, phew.

TBL: Paul... stopped with the blocker.

NYR: Chytil... stopped with the long pad of Vasy.

TBL: Killorn... shoots and SCORES!!!!!

NYR: Fox... STOPPED AND THE LIGHTNING WIN!!!