Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning one win from Stanley Cup final with OT win (w/video)

PITTSBURGH — Wing Alex Killorn jokes it's the same story, one he has seen many times this postseason.

The game is on the line, the Lightning needing a goal. And Nikita Kucherov — somehow, some way — delivers.

"He's one of those guys that it's just in him," Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman said.

The wing did it again Sunday night, scoring two tying goals, the second of which forced overtime with 3:16 to go in regulation in what became a 4-3 overtime victory over the Penguins in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final.

The Lightning is up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series and is one win away from making its second straight appearance in the Stanley Cup final. It would be the first team to play in back-to-back Cup finals since the 2008-09 Penguins and Red Wings.

Kucherov also assisted on the winner 53 seconds into overtime, a Jason Garrison shot that bounced off Tyler Johnson's rear end and in.

"I thought (Garrison) was going for my head again," Johnson said. "So I just turned around."

Kucherov has an NHL-leading 11 playoff goals. Seven of them are tying or go-ahead scores; five of the seven have come in the third period. His plus-17 leads the playoffs.

"When you're a rising star in this league, as he is, every team has one of those guys at some point," coach Jon Cooper said. "It just seems the bigger the moment, the bigger they rise to the occasion. (Kucherov has) proven that last year isn't a fluke. He's just a gifted, skilled and determined player. He's really a pleasure to coach."

The Lightning overcame a lot in this game.

There were gut punches. It gave up a goal in the final minute of each of the first two periods, including one with 0.7 seconds to go in the first that gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.

There were near-misses. Wing Ryan Callahan watched a potential tying goal harmlessly bounce off both posts and away from the goal with four minutes to go in regulation.

But as much as Cooper quips that his team gives him ulcers, he said there was a quiet calm and confidence on the bench.

"We believed in ourselves," Kucherov said.

And goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy helped keep the game close with another poised performance. With 31 saves, he had his fourth 30-plus-saves effort in this series.

"He's given us a chance to win every single game," Cooper said.

Stralman: "He's been terrific. Unbelievable."

One of Vasilevskiy's top stops came on a crucial penalty kill in the second period with the Lightning down 2-0. He made a sliding stop on Penguins wing Phil Kessel, and defenseman Victor Hedman then saved a goal by thwarting a potential rebound.

Killorn put the Lightning on the board moments later with a snipe shot from the left circle. Kucherov tied it 70 seconds later off a great feed from center Vladislav Namestnikov.

The Penguins had been 46-0 when leading after two periods this season, but that didn't faze the Lightning. On Kucherov's second tying goal, he "got lost," Hedman said, sneaking behind the Pittsburgh net, corralling a loose puck and beating Marc Andre-Fleury, who was making his first start since suffering a concussion March 31.

"He shows once again he's a big game player," Hedman said of Kucherov. "He's got, what, 11, 12 goals now? That's pretty incredible. Hopefully he's not done."

Contact Joe Smith at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Lightning 0 2 1 1 4
Penguins 1 2 0 0 3

 

First Period1, Pittsburgh, Dumoulin 1 (Rust, Kunitz), 19:59. PenaltiesMalkin, Pit (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:11; Carle, TB (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:11; Johnson, TB (hooking), 10:36.

Second Period2, Pittsburgh, Hornqvist 7 (Hagelin, Maatta), 1:30. 3, Tampa Bay Killorn 5 (Sustr), 13:15. 4, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 10 (Namestnikov), 14:25. 5, Pittsburgh, Kunitz 4 (Malkin), 19:10. PenaltiesLetang, Pit (slashing), 7:42; Kucherov, TB (holding), 11:02.

Third Period6, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 11 (Johnson, Palat), 16:44. PenaltiesMaatta, Pit (high-sticking), 2:36; Johnson, TB (interference), 4:43.

Overtime7, Tampa Bay, Johnson 7 (Garrison, Kucherov), :53. PenaltiesNone. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 4-9-11-1—25. Pittsburgh 8-13-12-1—34. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 0 of 3; Pittsburgh 0 of 3. GoaliesTampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 3-2 (34 shots-31 saves). Pittsburgh, Fleury 0-1 (25-21). A18,648 (18,387).

 
Comments
Could Detroit’s Mike Green be next domino to fall at deadline?

Could Detroit’s Mike Green be next domino to fall at deadline?

The Red Wings have started wheeling and dealing, shipping goalie Petr Mrazek to the Flyers for a package of conditional draft picks.That has shifted focus to a potential Lightning target, Red Wings defenseman Mike Green, who is expected to be moved b...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

WASHINGTON — Tyler Johnson was as good as gone.Or so it seemed.The scuttlebutt around last year's trade deadline was that the Lightning center could be the piece headed elsewhere to land a top-four defenseman. Maybe Nashville? St. Louis?Then th...
Published: 02/19/18
Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

TAMPA – The Lightning still might land that top tier defenseman it certainly needs by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. But if that player was wearing a Tampa Bay sweater Saturday, would the outcome against the Devils have been any different?The Ligh...
Published: 02/19/18
Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Reports and rumors involving the Lightning leading up to the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 26:Feb. 17A smaller move could pay big dividendsIf you look at the history of recent Stanley Cup champions, their pivotal moves were subtle, not splashy, the Time...
Published: 02/19/18
Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils forward Miles Wood was suspended two games without pay for his boarding penalty Saturday night against Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov during the second period of the Devils 4-3 victory.The hit knocked Namestnikov into the boards ...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/19/18
Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

TAMPA — When it comes to the trade deadline, everyone wants the big names. They dream of blockbusters.Lightning fans would love Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson or Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Maybe even Rangers wing Rick Nash.But if you ...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

TAMPA — Lightning D Jake Dotchin was scratched Saturday against the Devils, making it the fifth time in six games that he did not play."Obviously the playing time is down a bit," Dotchin said after the morning skate. "I just got to keep working...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — It was a game for Cold War nostalgia and present-day geopolitical angst, for feisty, post-whistle scraps in the corners and for cheap jokes on Twitter. It was a game drenched in history at the start and simmering with ill fee...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

The emphasis was on defense during Friday's practice and today's morning skate as the Lightning look to reduce not only the number of shots on goal allowed but also scoring chances. It allowed 39 in Thursday's win against the Red Wings and 33 in Thu...
Published: 02/17/18
Lightning falls to Devils

Lightning falls to Devils

TAMPA — The Lightning took enough shots to win Saturday’s game against the Devils. It scored enough goals to win, too. Problem was, the Lightning made enough mistakes to lose."There were a lot of positives," captain Steven Stamkos said, "but they sco...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18