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First line feast: Lightning’s top unit goes off in win over Leafs

Wayne Masut | The Scrum Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning got a welcome addition to their first line with Brayden Point making his season debut, in a game where the Lightning longed to make a statement. They’d just been called out by their captain, who stated “Unless we change things, it’s going to be a really, really, really long year.” The Bolts were hungry for this one, and it showed.

A spectacular entrance

Point didn’t take long to make an impact on the first line. Early on in the game, there was a scramble in front and none other than Point put it home. Exactly what Lightning fans wanted to see in his first moments of action. No signs of rust. A welcome return from Point.

An emphatic response

The Leafs didn’t take long to respond, when the Lightning did something you don’t want to do against the Leafs: take a penalty. Andreas Johnsson put one past Andrei Vasilevskiy on the power play to tie the game at one.

Moments later, John Tavares got his first of the year, on a deflection that beat Vasilevskiy.

Scoring with power

Sometimes, there’s no finesse needed for a goal. Nikita Kucherov, late in a Lightning man advantage, absolutely ripped a one timer past Frederik Andersen. No chance. 2-2.

Don’t forget the finesse

On the flip side, sometimes absolutely undressing a defender and putting it home works just fine. That’s exactly what Kevin Shattenkirk did to Morgan Reilly. He flew into the offensive zone, dangled past Reilly and Andersen and buried a spectacular goal that gave the Bolts a 3-2 lead.

Goals on top of goals

Crazily enough, there were still two more goals in this period, from two of the league’s best. Vasilevskiy bobbled a glove save and Auston Matthews was right there to put it home.

Later, on a Bolts power play, Steven Stamkos was left wide open. He made no mistake, burying a one-timer to give the Lightning a 4-3 lead at the conclusion of an absolutely wild first frame.

A ridiculous debut

Point wasn’t done yet with just one goal in his return. Kucherov blasted one to the front of the net, and Point was right there for a redirection for his second goal of the night to make it 5-3. The thing is, Point easily could have had three or four by this point in the game. He was all around the net and in the offensive zone in the early going, simply buzzing in a fantastic return to the lineup.

Fierce first line production

Within the first two periods, the new-look line consisting of Kucherov, Stamkos and Point was lethal. They had four goals and nine points. Not surprising, considering the speed, powerful shots, and abundance of skill this line has.

Good to be lucky, lucky to be good

Just when you thought things couldn’t go any better for the Lightning, they got a little luck. Ondrej Palat threw one on net from the corner. It hit the skate of Kasperi Kapanen and wound up in the net.

Continual domination

The Kucherov, Stamkos, Point combination wasn’t done yet. Kucherov got out of the box, went to the front of the net, and buried to put the game out of reach at 7-3. Stamkos earned the assist, ending Andersen’s night.

Up Next

The Lightning will be in Canada’s capital to take on the Ottawa Senators at 4 PM on Saturday.

Our three stars of the game

  1. Brayden Point: Two goals, one assist
  2. Nikita Kucherov: Two goals, two assists
  3. Steven Stamkos: One goal, three assists

 

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