The ability to strike quickly and score at any time is one of the biggest strengths of this Tampa Bay Lightning team. The frustrating part is when the Lightning don’t have a quick strike mentality. The Bolts certainly had that mentality on Friday night and they carried it into Sunday’s contest. The Bolts scored 4 times in the first 12 minutes of the game and never looked back. Brayden Point’s 2 goals led the way in a 5-2 victory over a playoff foe from last year, the New Jersey Devils.
The Bolts got on the board very quickly on Friday night and they continued that quick strike mentality on Sunday evening. Alex Killorn did a little magic behind the net and got lucky when the puck deflected off of Cory Schneider and in to give Tampa Bay the lead just over 3 minutes in. The Bolts got another opportunity in the 1st half of the period when Brian Boyle got sent off for cross checking at just past the 6 minute mark. The Bolts’ top power play unit cashed in on that opportunity. Brayden point scored his 16th goal of the season off of a pass from Kucherov to double the Lightning lead. It didn’t stop there. Less than 2 minutes later Tyler Johnson got into double digit goals on the season when he beat Schneider to put Tampa Bay up 3-0. Just seconds later New Jersey caught Tampa Bay sleeping. Stefan Noesen beat Domingue to bring the lead back to 2. The 1st period scoring wasn’t done there. Schneider’s rough night continued when Cedric Paquette’s 4th goal of the season was the 4th in the 1st 12 minutes of the game for the Lightning.
The Devils got a chance to cut into that 3 goal lead early in the 2nd period when Braydon Coburn got sent off for tripping. Domingue and the rest of the penalty kill held strong to keep the lead where it was. New Jersey’s bad luck continued. Point was credited with his 2nd goal of the night near the 9 minute mark, but it was really an own goal by Sami Vatanen. The Lightning got a chance to make it even more of a blowout on a power play in the final minutes of the period, but they couldn’t cash in on this chance.
If the Devils wanted to come back in this game they needed to score quickly and have their biggest stars be a big part of it. That didn’t happen again in the 3rd period. Taylor Hall continued to be absent in the final period of regulation, thanks, in big part, to Point’s play on the defensive end. Jesper Bratt did his part to get a New Jersey comeback going when he made it a 3-goal deficit just shy of 6 minutes into the frame. That’s all New Jersey could muster and the Bolts scored the victory.
The Bolts will have Monday off, but will then get right back at it on Tuesday. A western conference foe in the Anaheim Ducks will be in town. The puck is scheduled to drop shortly after 7:30 with pregame coverage beginning up the dial on News Radio 970 WFLA at 6:30.
1. TBL - Killorn - (Joseph) - 3:19
2. TBL - PPG - Point - (Kucherov, Hedman) - 7:21
3. TBL - Johnson - (Point, Kucherov) - 9:15
4. NJD - Noesen - (Seney) - 9:39
5. TBL - Paquette - (Callahan, Girardi) - 11:25
1. TBL - Point - (Unassisted) - 8:40
1. NJD - Bratt - (Unassisted) - 5:21
1. NJD - Boyle - (Cross Checking) - 6:15
2. NJD - Wood - (Holding) - 12:41
1. TBL - Coburn - (Tripping) - 2:33
2. NJD - Lovejoy - (High Sticking) - 18:48
SHOTS ON GOAL
Tampa Bay - 35
New Jersey - 34