It may still be early in the season but this game was an important one for the Lightning. They were coming off two tough losses in a row and had fallen out of a playoff spot. However they had played fewer games than most of their competitors. A win tonight would keep the Bolts right in the thick of the race. But it would not be an easy task. The Lightning would have to face the team that had embarrassed them just two nights earlier. They came out of the gate seeming to understand the significance of this game. The Lightning were flying in the opening frame, as a strong start propels the Bolts to victory.
Four in the First
Two nights ago, the Lightning struggled to find the back of the net. But tonight, they wasted little time, putting four on the board in the first. Mikhail Sergachev banged a wristshot past Darcy Kuemper for his third goal of the season just a minute and twenty-three seconds into the game. Then, right around the 8-minute mark, the Bolts got their first power play of the night. Lars Eller went to the box after hooking Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov was quick to make the Capitals pay, as he scored 20 seconds in the power play after some great work from Brandon Hagel to set up the shot. Sergachev added an assist on the goal for his second point of the night.
— Bucs Rays Bolts (@BucsRaysBoltsYT) November 14, 2022
But the Bolts were not done yet. Just under three minutes later, a shot by Nick Perbix found its way into the net, after bouncing off a Capital player in front of the net. It was the third goal in the last four games for Perbix. He’d had an assist earlier in the period to extend his point streak to four straight games. Five minutes later, back on the power play, Sergachev drilled another one past Darcy Kuemper and the Bolts were up 4-o. A four-point period for Mikhael Sergachev!
— ESPN (@espn) November 14, 2022
Controlling the Play
The four goals were the most the Bolts have scored in a single period this year. But perhaps more importantly, they were controlling the play. For the first seventeen minutes of the period, the Capitals did not manage a shot on net. In the waning moments of that frame, Washington applied mild pressure, and finished the period with four shots on goal. It was a dominant period for the Bolts as they controlled the play throughout. Darcy Kuemper, who had stymied the Bolts in their last game, did not make it through the first period in this one. Charlie Lindgren came in to relieve him after the Bolts’ fourth goal of the period.
The second period was fairly uneventful. Washington did break through in the dying minutes of the frame, as Conor Sheary scored on a delayed penalty call. The teams would go to the dressing room with the Bolts leading 4-1.
You Never Forget Your First
You never forget your first NHL goal. But Cole Koepke almost didn’t get credit for the first of his career! It looked as though his shot dinged off the post and stayed out.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) November 14, 2022
Moments later, Brandon Hagel came streaking in and scored. The horn sounded. But it was not Hagel’s goal! Upon review, it was determined that Koepke’s earlier shot had, in fact, fully crossed the goal line. Hagel seemed quite content to have his own goal taken away and see Koepke tally his first.
After a dominant game, the Bolts got somewhat careless in the final moments. Lars Eller scored with just about 3 minutes remaining. Approximately fifteen seconds later, the Lightning got that one back, as Nick Paul blasted the puck into an empty Washington net. Forty seconds after that, the Bolts got sloppy again and Garnet Hathaway wristed a shot past Vasilevskiy to make it a 6-3 game. But they would get no closer. The Bolts had the bounce-back game they needed. After an embarrassing loss to the Capitals just two nights earlier, the Lightning showed their dominance tonight, as their strong start propels the Bolts to a much-needed victory.
1- Mikhail Sergachev- 2 goals, 2 assists for a 4-point night
2- Cole Koepke- first career NHL goal
3- Nikita Kucherov- 1 goal, 1 assist
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