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Point and Kucherov ignite the offense at the shark tank

After a sluggish start, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov ignite the offense to surf past the Sharks 4-1, extend win streak to 5 games. Kucherov also set a franchise record with 12 straight games with an assist. Anthony Duclair kept his point streak in-tact in his first game back in San Jose since being traded to the Lightning. While it took the offense most of the night to finally score, Andrei Vasilevskiy kept the speedy San Jose squad in check which eventually allowed the Lightning to take over as the night went on.


Early goals set the game up

Starting off, Anthony Cirelli drew a slashing penalty 42 seconds into the game. San Jose have the 31st best penalty kill in the league but were able to shut down the Lightning and keep the game scoreless early. Lightning could not get anything going on the power play and only had a shot on goal prior. A few minutes later Tampa Bay opened up the scoring. The puck bounced towards Nick Paul who then had an open net to shoot at and give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. However, San Jose answered back on an odd man rush. William Eklund scored to tie the game 1-1 after the puck bounced of Erik Cernak’s stick which then caused San Jose to go the other way 2 on 1.


A cooldown after the quick start

After a quick start, play on ice began to slow down with half the period remaining. Since the goal from Paul Tampa Bay did not have too many good looks on net having only two shots on goal at this point. Sharks carried the puck better and had their first chance on the power play with 5:20 to go. The Sharks power play seemed like it was the Lightning power play instead with how long they had possession of the puck for. As the power play was ending Lightning received a power play with Luke Kunin being sent off for high-sticking. This was a much better power play for the Lightning however the score still remained tied with Tampa slowly gaining momentum as the period came to an end.

Where is the offense?

Lightning continued to play flat to begin the second period. San Jose remained to showcase their speed which constantly caught the Bolts sleeping. Despite playing better San Jose could not generate as many scoring chances as they would have liked. Then, Sharks nearly scored with around 11 minutes left but Andrei Vasilevskiy made a series of saves to keep the game tied. Lightning were still trying to get the engines rolling and nearly did with a 2-on-1 that quickly ended due to a pass that missed the mark.

Top line generates scoring chances

The top line of the Lightning were the only ones to show any sort of energy and applied pressure that at times were too much for the Sharks defense to handle. Next, tensions began to rise with Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Connor Sheary being sent off for rouging after no whistle was blown to kill the play earlier. As a result, 4-on-4 hockey would follow with 4:35 left in the period with the game still tied 1-1. Once again, Sharks nearly scored but Vasy was able to make the stop with the period ending. Lightning would start the third period on the power play after Jan Rutta is called for slashing.

Offense gets the engines rolling

Third period started exactly how the Lightning wanted it to. On the power play Brayden Point banked in a rebound to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead. After the offense being quiet for a majority of the night this was the exact spark the team needed to get the engines firing on all cylinders. Following the goal Lightning continued to finally keep the puck in the offensive zone before the Sharks were finally able to clear. The scoring would not stop there as Duclair fired the puck from a Kucherov pass past Mackenzie Blackwood to extend the lead 3-1. With the goal Duclair has at least 1 point in all 5 games since he was traded to the Lightning. This was Kucherov’s third assist of the night in what surely will become a historical season for him.

Win streak extended to five games

The game plan for the rest of the night was to maintain the lead and contain the speedy Sharks skaters. Half the period remained meaning there was still plenty of time left for both teams to make something happen. Sharks would then get only their second power play of the night and hoped to make it a one goal game again. Lightning killed off the penalty and soon after Point scored his second of the game to extend the lead 4-1. Sharks would get a late penalty with Steven Stamkos sent off for tripping with 1:40 remaining in the game. Overall, Lightning dominated play for the first time all game in the third period which allowed them to take over and breeze by with the win. The California gauntlet continues Saturday with a trip to LA to face the Kings.


Three stars of the game

1st star:  Nikita Kucherov – 4 assists

2nd star: Brayden Point – 2 goals and 1 assist

3rd Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Stopped 21 of 22 shots faced

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