The Seattle Kraken didn’t make it hard for the Tampa Bay Lightning to win on Wednesday night by a score of 4-1 on the road. Yanni Gourde opened the scoring against his old team, but goals from Nikita Kucherov in the first, Victor Hedman in the second, Anthony Cirelli and a second power goal from Hedman in the third period were all that were needed and more to come away with the win.
Steven Stamkos scored three assists in the game, giving him 39 on the season in his 900th career NHL game. Hedman had two goals, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov each had two points as well. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 of 25 in the win while the Lightning posted 39 shots on goal of their own. 39 was a relatively common number in the game, as tonight was the Bolts’ 39th win, Stamkos got his 39th assist of the season, and 39% was the shot share the Kraken ended up getting in a game where they were trailing for most of it.
The Kraken were without top line forward Calle Järnkrok, who was traded hours before the game started for three draft picks from the Calgary Flames. Despite that disadvantage, the Lightning gave the Kraken chances in the game to come back, but they couldn’t put it together. This wasn’t the best win of the season for the Lightning, but I think the most important takeaway was that it didn’t have to be.
The Lightning didn’t have to fight very hard, and they weren’t punished for turnovers or poor penalties. At the end of the season, it’s good when you don’t have to stress too much about every win. The Lightning get pretty motivated opponents most nights, so games against this year’s Kraken are pretty nice.
The Kraken opened the game with a goal from old friend Yanni Gourde on the two-man advantage power play. The Bolts were doing pretty well on the kill, but after Joseph took a second penalty at the blue line to go down 5v3, there were too many seams to cover and Gourde converted.
Kucherov tied the game on a counterattack 2-on-1 with Stamkos. Pass. Shoot. Score. The Kraken didn’t do much on the back check after losing a battle at the other blue line and only having one guy back. Stamkos scored his 930th career point in his 900th career game.
While the Lightning were on their first power play of the game, they were hit with a terrible call on Killorn, who allegedly tripped Oleksiak, but barely tapped his leg as Oleksiak did a full backflip. Here is the video, it’s brutal. His left leg went in the air first!
How the hell is this not embellishment lmao pic.twitter.com/uUWHItmeVo— Bella B. is typing... (@Bbonjour17) March 17, 2022
Despite the penalties, it was very good period for the Lightning at 5v5. They were ahead in shot attempts (21-13, 62%), with similar numbers in scoring chances and expected goals.
With Gourde in the box for slashing, Hedman with a point shot through traffic found its way in. That shot wasn’t even the team’s best chance on the power play, with Stamkos getting a one-timer in open space earlier, and Point finding Killorn at the side of the net. Nevertheless, it was the one that counted. Stamkos got his second assist of the game, while Kucherov got the other. Perry was in front of the net and made a great screen.
Will Borgen hauled down Cirelli as the two were heading through the slot. The Kraken got a penalty for interference as Cirelli fell hard and looked ginger while getting back to the bench while the power play got started.
Blackwell and Gourde nearly got a 2-on-1 shorthanded, but Hedman got in the way of the pass to shut down the play. A clutch move to probably avoid a tying goal.
And then, as the penalty expired, Sergachev had to cross the width of the ice twice to disrupt and block passes as the Kraken had three guys going away. Huge effort at the end of a shift to drain the tank and prevent a goal.
I would argue the second period was just as good, although more controlled and less in expected goals. Shots were 16-11 in favor of the Bolts (60%), and they finally got on the good side of a couple calls. One of the power plays struggled to keep the puck in the zone, but Hedman and Sergachev did well defensively in transition back to stop any chances.
Chaos! and Cirelli finds a way! Point made this play happen from the very beginning, beating two Kraken to a loose puck in the offensive zone. He got on his edges immediately and made a beeline to the net, pulling two defenders and the goalie Grubauer across to the left with him. From there, Cirelli and Palat tried to bang the puck home — Blackwell made a leg save somewhere in there — but eventually Cirelli got it in through the tightest of corners in the end.
With Larsson in the box for tripping Colton, the Kraken got really sloppy in their structure on the penalty kill, allowing the Lightning to just play catch, setting up Hedman for his second power play goal of the night.