The Tampa Bay Lightning scored four unanswered goals in the third period on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes(custom Carolina hurricanes championship rings
) to snatch a 6-3 victory on Thursday night. The win was head coach Jon Cooper’s 300th of his career in only game number 500. In those six full seasons, Cooper has not led his team to a season under 41 wins in 82 games, which is crazy considering the 2016-17 team was without Steven Stamkos. Yet, at the end of that day, Cooper got his team to within one point of the playoffs. If you look at points percentage, Cooper’s .633 is an average of a 104 point season.
Louis Domingue got his 21st win of the season, stopping 25 of 28 shots. Kudos to the Lightning for clamping down after a squirrely first period, Domingue only had to face 15 shots in the final two periods and just nine in the third. On offense, Nikita Kucherov got a secondary assist on Tyler Johnson’s goal, giving him 120 points in 75 games, which is the fourth fastest in NHL history(stanley cup rings
). Sidney Crosby in 2006-07 was the last to hit that feat at all. I’m sorry, but where is the lie? Best offensive player the NHL has seen since 20-year-old Crosby, with a +25 goal differential at even strength, 31 points ahead of his closest teammate, and still gets talked about as bad defensively and being carried by his team. No respect, I tell you.
Stamkos, Johnson, Anthony Cirelli, Ryan Callahan, Brayden Point, and Ryan McDonagh scored the goals in the game. Victor Hedman led the team from the backend, putting up three assists in 26 minutes of icetime. He and Mikhail Sergachev as a pair put together a 58% shot attempt rating while playing one of the best shot differential teams in the league(championship rings
Stamkos power play goal on the first shot of the game. Point and Miller won the puck in the corner against the penalty killers who were trying to overload the zone. Unlucky for them, the Lightning were able to get the puck out and quickly to Stamkos on the far side where he made no mistake. This was the first of three assists given to Hedman in this game and the first of two primary assists.
After the goal, the Hurricanes put together a couple good shifts, cycling around the offensive zone and keeping the puck away from the Lightning. As the Lightning tried to get the puck out of the zone following a forecheck, Cedric Paquette got stripped of the puck by Sebastian Aho who fed trigger man Nino Niederreiter for a shot that beat Domingue. The Lightning definitely didn’t play badly here, but they definitely got out-matched by the first line of the Hurricanes.
Andrei Svechnikov picked up the puck from Jordan Staal in the neutral zone and chugged past Braydon Coburn around the outside. He drove to the net and took a shot on Domingue, which was stopped, but the rebound fell to a driving Dougie Hamilton whose snapper from the slot beat Domingue clean. I won’t lie, I got Hedman shivers on that play. Hamilton’s way too good of a player to have been traded away three times (yes, I count the Leafs trading his pick for Phil Kessel). As the period went on, things started to get very chippy. Mostly because Yanni Gourde elbowed Staal on the chin. It was a head hit that saw Gourde react and reach to get a piece of Staal, which is a big no-no. Staal left the game, but would later return in the second period after undergoing concussion protocol. Gourde was give a five-minute major for a hit to the head and was kicked out of the game.
The Tampa Bay Lightning don’t rush the puck in transition like most teams. Cirelli and his “Leroy Jenkins!” attitude excepted. This play was quick, crisp, and aggressive. Let’s go through this play from the vantage of each player involved. First, Brayden Point picked up a great pass through the neutral zone by Johnson. Point crossed the blue line and dropped the puck off to Kucherov before heading to the net. From there, he was trying to get position for a rebound, but mostly to tie up Brett Pesce.