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Cirelli shines, tallies first career hat trick in beat-down of the Jets

Wayne Masut | The Scrum Sports

Going into their last game before the bye week and All-Star break, the Tampa Bay Lightning knew they had to rebound following last night’s abysmal defeat against the Minnesota Wild. Thanks to a hat trick by Anthony Cirelli, and a pair of goals from Nikita Kucherov, the Bolts can go into the all-star break with confidence yet again.

In addition to top-notch performances by Cirelli and Kucherov, Alex Killorn also reached a career high in goals while Ondrej Palat tacked on three assists to propel the Bolts over the Winnipeg Jets 7-1 at Bell MTS Place.

Slow start, electrifying finish

With the way the beginning of the game was going, it looked like the Lightning were going nowhere. As the period went on, this would not be the case, as Cirelli opened up the scoring. His snap shot 9:27 in the first period was his first goal since December 30, and it wouldn’t be his only goal of the night. At the 12:21 mark of the period, Nikita Kucherov buried Steven Stamkos’s pass past Winnipeg Jets goaltender Conner Hellebuyck to make it 2-0. Late in the period, Cirelli tacked on another goal to make it 3-0 going into the first intermission.

Offence keeps producing goals

The Lightning continued to keep the momentum going in the second period. Kucherov found the back of the net yet again off a feed from Brayden Point at 7:21 keep the scoring party going. Stamkos had a chance moments before that goal that missed the net, but he followed that up by throwing a body check that forced a turnover, allowing Point to pick up the puck and feed Kucherov for the goal. Carter Verhaeghe scored minutes later to further extend the lead to 5-0. Winnipeg then made a goalie change following the Verhaeghe goal, yanking Hellebuyck for Laurent Brossoit. The Jets finally found an answer on offense when Jack Roslovic wristed one past Andrei Vasilevskiy to make the score 5-1 Lightning after two periods.

Hat trick fever

The third period would be one a couple of Bolts players will remember for a while. Cirelli extended Tampa Bay’s lead to 6-1 at 7:48 for the first hat trick of his young career. Killorn also reached a milestone with his career-high 20th goal of the season, wristing one past Brossoit for a 7-1 lead. The goal also served as the 300th point of Killorn’s NHL career. Following Tampa Bay’s seventh goal, the team decided to play a more conservative game in order to keep Winnipeg from attempting to make a comeback. The win marks Vasilevskiy’s 10th in a row, putting him one game away from tying Louis Domingue’s team record for most consecutive wins by a goalie. Tampa Bay concluded a stretch of 13 games in 21 days with a record of 11-2 going into the bye week and All-Star break.

Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Anthony Cirelli – Earned his first career hat trick

2nd Star: Nikita Kucherov – Scored two goals. He now has five goals in the Lightning’s last three games

3rd Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Saved 30 of 31 shots faced

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