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Kucherov, Stamkos Fight off Coyote Attack

Photo: Alex Walworth, The Scrum Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning returned home to the friendly confines of Amalie Arena tonight following a relatively successful road trip. Sure, they had their five-game winning streak snapped. But they game back to win the final game of the away stint to collect four of a possible six road points. Although their overall win streak came to an end, their home win streak sits at five games coming into tonight, having not lost at home in the month of January. They looked to keep the home crowd happy tonight as the Arizona Coyotes roamed into town.

The Coyotes likely have not enjoyed their stay in Florida thus far. They took a thrashing from the Florida Panthers in Sunrise last night. Would they be extra hungry for their stop in Tampa tonight? Or would they leave Florida with their tails between their legs?

From the First Minute to the Last

In net tonight for Arizona was 2016 Lightning third round draft pick Connor Ingram. Ingram has had a stellar couple of games with his current team against his former team. He is 2-0-0 in his two starts with a goals against average of 0.48 and a .987 save percentage. Last February, he stunned the Bolts with a 47-save shutout. Earlier this season, he allowed just one goal on 31 shots.

But within 24 seconds of the puck drop tonight, Ingram had already given up as many goals this game as he had in both of his previous games against the Lightning combined! Darren Raddysh notched his fourth of the season to give the Bolts an early lead.

The teams exchanged chances for the next several minutes. Then, the Lightning had some trouble in their own zone and ended up leaving Clayton Keller with an open net. He didn’t miss and easily tallied his 20th of the season.

As the last minute of play in the period was announced, a brawl ensued. Mikey Eyssimont got into it with J.J. Moser. Both players got five for fighting. The skirmish might have energized the Bolts as they scored with just 33 seconds remaining in the period. Brayden Point streaked in and drilled a shot past Ingram for his 21st of the season. Point’s linemate, Nikita Kucherov, drew an assist to bring his season total to 50.

Through one period, the Lightning had doubled their previous two-game goal total against the Coyotes.

Time for the Achilles Heel Period

The Bolts were undoubtedly very happy to be taking a lead into the second period- especially given that second periods have been somewhat of an Achilles heel for the boys in blue this season.

It looked like it might be another one of those second periods as the Lightning were a bit sloppy in their own end for the first few minutes. But they managed to keep the Coyotes off the scoreboard.

At 7:36, Nikita Kucherov struck again for his 32nd of the season! Steven Stamkos assisted on the goal for his 1,100th career point.

A few minutes later, the Bolts got the first power play chance of the game. The league’s leading power play did everything but put the puck in the net for the first little bit. But then, as happens so often on Lightning power plays, Steven Stamkos. The captain rifled a one-timer from his office past Ingram to make it 4-1.

Another First

So far, the Achilles heel period was nothing but! Last week, Waltteri Merela notched his first career NHL goal. Tonight, his newly called up linemate Mitchell Chaffee got to enjoy a similar moment. He took a pass from Max Crozier and buried it to put the Bolts up 5-1. Mitchell Chaffee from Max Crozier and Emil Lilleberg- probably not something too many of us would have expected to hear!

Before the period ended, the Coyotes made a push to get back into it. Sean Durzi scored at 16:59 to pull Arizona within three. They got a power play in the last minute and the Bolts killed off the remaining 43 seconds of the frame to hold their lead. But the Coyotes would take 1:17 of power play time to start the third.

Two Down, One to Go

The Bolts took a three-goal lead into the final frame, but the Coyotes were refusing to run scared. They continued to put pressure on the home team, but the Lightning stood their ground. The Bolts seemed content to just keep their structure and kill of the final 20. They didn’t have too many scoring chances, but they made the most of the ones they had.

Luke Glendening got one such opportunity and made the most of it, tallying his eighth of the season. Bolts were once again up by four. Waltteri Merela was originally given an assist on that goal for the first assist of his career. But, it was since removed as it turned out he did not touch the puck.

The Coyotes were still looking to get back into this one and almost had their chance. Logan Crouse scored his 19th of the season at 11:48 to pull Arizona within three. But before the goal could even come up on the scoreboard, Michael Kesselring cross-checked Maxwell Crozier to the ice. Fights ensued and in the end, the Bolts found themselves with a four-minute power play. Although they did not score, they controlled play and had some excellent chances. It killed any chance the Coyotes had to build momentum.

And that was all she wrote. A solid 6-3 victory for the boys in blue. They Coyotes will, indeed, leave Florida with their tails between their legs. Lightning home win streak extended to 6 games with one more to go before the all-star break.


Three Stars

1- Nikita Kucherov- is this getting tiresome yet? (Never)- 1 goal, 2 assists, 25th multi-point game this season.

2- Steven Stamkos- 1 goal, 1 assist, passed the 1,100 career point mark.

3-  Mitchell Chaffee- 1st career goal

Up Next

The Bolts have one more game before heading into the all-star break. They’ll face off against the New Jersey Devils right here at Amalie on Saturday night. Game time is 7pm.

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