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Force is strong with Lightning as they sweep season series with Sharks

Wayne Masut | Staff Photographer

With tonight being Star Wars night at Amalie Arena, it seemed fitting that San Jose was in town. The NHL’s resident Chewbacca, Brent Burns and the Sharks looked to keep the Tampa Bay Lightning in their current slump.

Following a stretch where they lost four out of six games, the Lightning rebounded in a big way, taking down the Sharks 5-2. Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson each scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves as the Bolts swept the Sharks in a multi-game season series for the first time since 2002-03. Tampa Bay also ended a four-game losing streak to the Sharks at Amalie Arena.

Opening period woes continue

Despite out-shooting the San Jose Sharks in the first period 15-8, the Lightning were behind on the scoreboard 1-0. Missed opportunities would be the best way to describe the opening period for the Bolts.  Tampa would attempt the use their Jedi powers to get one past Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, but he was too strong through one. The lone goal of the period came from Barclay Goodrow 16:58 into the opening period. Ryan Callahan led all Lightning skaters with three shots on goal. Chris Kunitz, Steven Stamkos and Mikhail Sergachev all had two shots.

The Kuch Awakens

It didn’t take long for the Lightning to get going in the swing of things during the opening seconds of the second period. Twenty-seven seconds in, new linemates, but old friends Ondrej Palat and Kucherov got the Bolts on the board. With both men rushing into the zone while 5-on-5, Palat slid the puck through the slot right onto Kucherov’s stick. All the young Russian needed to do was bury it, and that he did. Kucherov’s scoring drought ended at six games.

While the Bolts shooters peppered Jones with shots (31 through two periods), Tampa Bay could only manage the one goal. With less than four minutes left in the game Kucherov would get another goal for a 5-2 Lightning lead.

Star Wars Night Trailer

Johnson Returns

Following a 15-game scoring drought, Tyler Johnson decided enough was enough. Less than two minutes into the third period, Johnson would speed into the offensive zone and put the puck past Jones for a 2-1 Lightning lead. Just about four minutes later Tyler would strike again, this time off a rebound in front of Martin Jones for a 3-1 Lightning lead.

Conacher Strikes Back

Cory Conacher has played in two games this season, but he has two goals in those two games. The line of Alex Killorn, Yanni Gourde, and Conacher was firing on all cylinders most of the night. While his stay may not be very long, he is making the most of every chance with the Lightning this season.

Next Up

John Tavares and the New York Islanders visit Amalie Arena on Tuesday, December 5th. Puck drops at 7:30 pm.

Three Stars of the Game

1st Star – Tyler Johnson: Scored two goals, ending his 15-game scoreless drought.

2nd Star – Nikita Kucherov: Notched two goals on the night to end his six-game drought.

3rd Star – Ondrej Palat: Two assists, as tonight was all about the Triplets even though they weren’t on the same line.

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