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Kucherov hat trick leads Lightning to victory over Flyers, 6-3

Jan 23, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (14) and Tampa Bay Lightning center Luke Glendening (11) collide in front of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t the prettiest of wins for the Tampa Bay Lightning as a determined Philadelphia Flyers squad hung around until the end, but the Bolts outlasted them to win, 6-3. With the victory, the Lightning finish their short road trip with a 2-1 record and creep up into third place in the Atlantic Division with 55 points.

It was an 11/7 night as Phil Myers and Alex Barre-Boulet drew into the line-up while Austin Watson (out week-to-week per the team) and Waltteri Merela were out. The Lightning finished the game without Myers, who left the ice after blocking a shot right above the left knee pad.

Nikita Kucherov was the star of the night as he posted a hat trick and added an assist to retake the scoring lead in the NHL and become the first player to amass 80 points in the season. Brayden Point, Brandon Hagel, and Anthony Cirelli had two point nights and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 32 shots from the Flyers. Sam Ersson was in net for the Flyers and stopped 15 of 19 shots.

The Lightning were outshot 32 to 21 in the game, but the 21 shots is a bit misleading as Tampa Bay did have 53 shot attempts, but saw the Flyers block 23 shots on the night. On the other end of the ice, the Flyers had 71 shot attempts, but a lot came from distance and Vasilevskiy was sharp in stopping the initial shots and allowed the skaters in front of him to clear the puck. While he didn’t make quite as many outstanding saves as he did against Detroit, he still pulled a little magic out when they needed him to:

It was Brayden Point he started the scoring early. Kucherov made a nice move into the zone and spun a defender off of him before his pass went a bit astray. The puck made it to Max Crozier at the point and the rookie let loose a shot in the general direction of the net. It was going wide, but Point was there to redirect it past Ersson. Crozier picked up the assist for his first NHL point.

The rest of the period was fairly even, but the Lightning doubled the lead at the end of the frame. Their second power play of the night was winding down when they entered the zone. Kucherov unleashed a shot that was blocked, but the Flyers started to scramble a bit. Darren Raddysh and Brandon Hagel worked a nice passing play to get the puck back over to Kucherov who banged it home for his first goal of the night.

Early in the second period they made it 3-0 when Kucherov, who must have been wearing an invisibility cloak, was left alone to Ersson’s left. Point made the pass to him and Kucherov was able to kick to his stick and into the net. This one counted as a power play goal.

A John Tortorella led team is not going to make things easy and the Flyers started to string some long shifts together in the Lightning zone. It led to Cam Atkinson tipping a shot from a bad angle past Vasilevskiy. Four minutes later Jamie Drysdale made it a one-goal game when he scored on the power play for his first goal as a member of the Flyers.

With the game tightening up, the Lightning scored a huge goal (again on the power play). Victor Hedman boomed a big shot from the point that ricocheted off of the boards right to Kucherov. Not only did he handle the hot potato, he one-touched it right to Mikey Eyssimont, who wisely had his stick on the ice in the slot and was able to one-time it into the goal. They carried the 4-2 lead into the locker room.

Philly made it close to open the third when Cam York batted a blocked puck into the net on his backhand. He just made a very nice play. What was good to see, though, was that after the goal, the Lightning didn’t fall back into a shell. In fact for most of the middle part of the period they carried the play, holding the Flyers to just five shot attempts until the final minutes when the home squad got a little desperate.

Torts pulled the goalie with just under three minutes to go and the Lightning made him pay with goals from Hagel and Kucherov.

The Flyers are a tough team to play against as they block a ton of shots and do a lot of little things really well. They also know how to agitate a bit and the Lightning showed some composure. Travis Konecny dropped Kucherov with a push to the back of the head. Garnet Hathaway ran over Eyssimont away from the puck. Crozier was hit with a shot after the whistle. The Bolts didn’t retaliate or let the Flyers goad them into bad penalties.

At the end of a road trip, the Bolts were able to match their compete level and play through some rough spots to pick up the win.

The Lines

The Goals

Brayden Point (Max Crozier)

Nikita Kucherov (Brandon Hagel, Darren Raddysh) 2-0 Lightning

Nikita Kucherov (Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos) Power Play, 3-0 Lightning

Cam Atkinson (Joel Farabee, Sean Walker) 3-1 Lightning

Jamie Drysdale (Morgan Frost, Cam Atkinson) Power Play, 3-2 Lightning

Mikey Eyssimont (Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman) Power Play, 4-2 Lightning

Cam York (Morgan Frost) 4-3 Lightning

Brandon Hagel (Anthony Cirelli, Calvin de Haan) Empty Net, 5-3 Lightning

Nikita Kucherov (Anthony Cirelli, Nick Perbix) Empty Net, 6-3 Lightning

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