Last night’s game was a highly anticipated one for a couple of reasons. First the return of Brayden Point after his double hip surgery and second Victor Hedman playing in his 700th game. Both players hit the ice with determination that helped the Bolts carry a different tune. The electricity of the 1st line combo for the Lightning set the tone for the night, Stamkos, Point, and Kucherov, came out skating fast and hard really attacking the Maple Leafs’ net, not even 2 minutes into the 1st period, Point scored his 1st goal of the season. Reminding us of his relentlessness in front of opponents’ nets. Moments after Point’s goal, Hedman who started off paired with Sergachev for the night, hit the penalty box for a cross check call, placing the Maple Leafs player in a power play where A. Johnsson positioned himself to get a goal.
As the pace of the game remained quick, 7:46 into the 1st period Maple Leafs, Johnathan Tavares put the Leafs up 2-1 with a tip in shot and less than 3 minutes later the Bolts responded as Hedman assisted Kucherov with a snap shot goal to tie the game 2-2. Lightning’s new defensive player, Shattenkirk showed a beautiful read on the Maple Leafs’ defense, skating central up the ice to get an unassisted goal, his 3rd goal already for the season, putting the Lightning up, 3-2. Auston Matthews had been skating hard at the Bolts goal the whole 1st period and finally got a wrist shot in, putting the score at 3-3. Seconds before the 1st period ended Cirelli finds Stamkos for a power play goal closing the 1st period with the Bolts in the lead, 4-3.
The 2nd period we saw a lot of defense, both teams playing fast hockey. The Lightning’s defense pairings kept switching up and continued rotating in Coburn, which increased the pace of Tampa’s defense. The Bolts defense not being so heavily relied on with a quicker offense in motioned allowed the guys to move up and down the ice more and even be more involved offensively. Both defenses were in the zone, but finally the only goal of the 2nd period was scored by the Lightning’s 1st line combo. Stamkos to Kucherov and Kucherov to Point for a tip in goal, lighting up the score board for a 5-3 lead. Another line combo to be recognized for its efforts of the night, Palat, Cirelli, Killorn. Cirelli really knows how to use his body to create space to maneuver the puck. He helped set up his teammates significantly, so much so that 3:56 into the 3rd period, Cirelli gets a pass of to Palat, which Palat deflects off a Maple Leafs skate to score a goal. With the Bolts ahead, 6-3, Kucherov gets a holding penalty, putting the Maple Leafs in a power play that they hoped to maximize on, but the Leafs struggled against the Lightning’s defense and Vasy’s saves. As the power play clock ran out, the Leafs let up enough to allow Kucherov to rush out of the penalty box on to the ice for another goal, sealing the game for Tampa Bay 7-3.
Point showed that he brings a pace to this game that his teammates were excited to match and the Lightning as a whole playing with more structure and a faster execution of the puck, made for quite a game. The Lightning will look to carry this momentum into their continued road trip, Saturday in Ottawa versus the Senators at 4pm ET.