As the 24 participating NHL teams prepared for an unorthodox playoff approach, the exhibition games were a highly anticipated beginning giving the guys an opportunity to have a competitive game before red robin rounds and playoff games. There seemed to be a theme for the exhibition games, as teams faced off against their rivals. The Lightning exhibited versus the Florida Panthers at noon and put on quite a performance defeating the Panthers 5-0.
The top line looked sharp on the ice and very on point, pun intended…as Palat, Point, and Kucherov combined for 10 points and more importantly, Brayden Point had a heck of an exhibition game. Prior to the COVID pause Point was sitting at 25 goals and added 2 more goals to that in just the 1st period against Florida, playing with speed, smarts, and being quite clutch near the crease. We know Kucherov is a force to be reckoned especially with his speed and unique skills giving him 2 goals, one on a power play in the 2nd period and one in the 3rd period securing the Bolts a 5-0 victory. While Palat contributed 3 assists replacing Stamkos on the top line, one of those assists to defense man, Luke Schenn, helping him extend the Lightnings lead to 4-0 with 5:13 left in the 2nd period.
Solid performance accolades should be handed out all around, especially to Vasilevskiy. No shock there as the big cat did what the big cat does with 26 saves in the game. A typical performance of a Vezina Trophy finalist. Panthers goalie, Bobrovsky still had a game with 29 saves, but that only puts in perspective how hard the Bolts were attacking the Panthers goal… The Lightning were one of the top scoring teams before the pause and played like they planned to remain the top scoring team in the NHL. Of course this brings hope to how Tampa Bay will play in playoffs and reopened questions pertaining to the tough sweep by the Blue Jackets, but coach Cooper had no intention of giving the topic the time of day. The exhibition game was the perfect practice run as the Bolts set their sights on Monday’s red robin game versus the Washington Capitals.