The 2022-23 NHL regular season has come to an end. The Tampa Bay Lightning face the Detroit Red Wings at Amalie Arena. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, they are in the playoffs for the sixth straight season. Detroit is not going to the playoffs. Tonight, the Wings play for pride. The Lightning end this season in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division. This is where they ended last season. They are also set to play the same team in the first round of the playoffs as last season. More about that later.
As the playoffs are right around the corner, a couple of players were being rested. Victor Hedman, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Erik Cernak had the night off. The biggest question tonight for the home team centers around Brayden Point. He is sitting on 49 goals and you can bet his teammates will feed him the puck. They will do anything to get Point’s 50th goal. No better way to end the season finale than with a milestone goal for Point
After the Lightning loss Tuesday to Toronto, their intensity was questioned by their coach. That wasn’t an issue at the start of this game. Tampa seemed to dominate the puck possession but Detroit outshot the Lightning by a mile. Through the first 17 minutes of the period, the Lightning had one shot on goal. That one shot by Alex Killorn had eyes and found the back of the net. Over Ville Husso’s pad and just under his glove, Killorn scored the game’s first goal. Meanwhile, Detroit just peppered Brian Elliott with 12 shots and failed to put any past the Lightning goalie. So the period ended 1-0 in favor of the Lightning.
Alex Killorn finds the back of the net!
— Bally Sports Sun: Lightning (@BallyLightning) April 13, 2023
Clearly, the Lightning were intent on getting Point to 50 goals. More than a few times they seemingly passed on a shot to feed the puck to Point. So he now has two periods to net his 50th.
Unlike the first period, the Lightning mustered two shots on goal in the first minute of the second. They continued by getting another three shots in the second minute. At least the intensity level can’t be criticized. The Red Wings weren’t going away quietly as the ice tilted in the Lightning’s direction. The visitors withstood the initial onslaught from the home team. The score remained 1-0.
Back and forth the two teams went on in the middle frame. The Lightning outshot the Red Wings 14 to 13 in the period but neither team scored. Both goalies, Elliott and Husso made some good saves but held firm. So, heading into the third period, it is still 1-0 Lightning. Still, no goal for Point and he’s down to one period for this milestone.
Heading into the final period, the Lightning up by a goal, can they get the victory? Can Point get to 50? Will Elliott preserve the shutout? All these questions would be answered in the final 20 minutes of the regular season. Have to give credit to the Lightning players. They knew helping Point get his milestone goal would be huge. He would be only the 3rd Lightning player to reach that mark. Joining Vinny LeCavalier and Steven Stamkos as the only Bolts to get to that point. Pun clearly intended.
About seven minutes into the period, Brandon Hagel and Killorn were working an odd man rush. As Hagel passed to Killorn, a Detroit defender tipped the pass into the corner and Killorn had to dig it out. When he did, he found Point in the slot right in front of Husso. Point could only lift a backhanded shot which Husso saved but didn’t control. The puck found Hagel’s stick who put it in the net for the Lightning’s second goal.
Will We See Point’s 50th Goal?
Halfway through the period, Point is still stuck on 49 goals. On a power play chance, Nikita Kucherov in his usual spot, snipes a shot at Husso which he saves. The puck however, landed right on Point’s stick who waltzed past Husso who was out of position and netted his 50th goal. The Lightning players went nuts with congratulations as Amalie Arena exploded with fans celebrating this achievement. Point’s 50th goal gave the Lightning a 3-0 lead with less than half a period remaining.
Welcome to the 50-goal club, Brayden Point! pic.twitter.com/UxqQvO84gv
— Bally Sports Sun: Lightning (@BallyLightning) April 14, 2023
The rest of the game was anti-climatic. Yes, Point scored another to end his season with 51 goals. Though it was an empty netter with a bit over four minutes left. That made it 4-0 Lightning and the joint was jumping. Mikey Eyssimont scored his first goal as a Lightning with nine second left in the game.
So, Point gets his 50th and 51st goals. Elliott, who may have played his last NHL game, goes out with a shutout. The Lightning, about to start their playoff push and end the season with a 5-0 win over the Red Wings.
- Brayden Point – 2 Goals, one assist and becomes only the 3rdf Lightning player to score 50 or more goals in a season
- Brian Elliot – much maligned through the season by fans, pitches a shutout in what could very well be the last NHL game for the 38 year old netminder
- Brandon Hagel – 1 Goal, 1 Assist finished the season with 30 goals
The playoffs begin and the playoff schedule has not been announced yet. We do know that the Lightning will play the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. This is a rematch of last year’s first round series. Toronto has the home ice so the first two games will be there. First game should be either next Monday or Tuesday.
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