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Brayden Point has career night with impact on both ends

Brayden Point had five points in the Lightning's win and played a big part in holding off one of the defending Hart winner Taylor Hall.
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) beats New Jersey Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid (1) and defenseman Andy Greene (6) to score 30 seconds into the second period as the Lightning go up 3 to 2 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday evening (10/30/18).
DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) beats New Jersey Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid (1) and defenseman Andy Greene (6) to score 30 seconds into the second period as the Lightning go up 3 to 2 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday evening (10/30/18). DIRK SHADD | Times
Published Oct. 31, 2018

TAMPA—Brayden Point could have donned a King Midas costume for Halloween. Everything the Lightning center touched turned to gold.

Point has been off to a good start on the season overall, and it only got hotter with a career-high five points Tuesday night.

"I don't think I did anything spectacular," Point said after the 8-3 win over New Jersey. "It was just one of those nights that everything you touch ends up in the back of the net."

Point's five points were only part of his impact. The line of Gourde, Point and Tyler Johnson were matched up with New Jersey's vaunted line of Taylor Hall (the defending Hart winner), Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri. The line's only goal came on the power play and had a little help, bouncing off Ryan McDonagh.

"The Point line, they were on tonight," coach Jon Cooper said. "It's a big assignment, they had to go against those guys and the MVP of the league. Every team you play has some big dynamic line, you have to shut them down to give yourself a chance to win. That line did that tonight."

Perhaps Halls' best chance of the night came in the first period, an opportunity for a two-goal lead in the first couple of minutes. A Lightning turnover turned into a foot race to Andrei Vasilevskiy between Point and Hall. Point positioned himself to force Hall to veer off and Hall couldn't get the shot off.

"Pointer has played numerous games where he didn't have a point and he was outstanding," Cooper said. "He may have been shutting down the other team or what have you. You feel good for guys when they have a special night like he did tonight for the nights that he didn't have those and the points didn't add up. When you consistently play as hard as he does, eventually things like this are going to happen."

Point's only goal of the five points was the game-winner 31 seconds into the second period and demonstrated Point's situational awareness.

Yanni Gourde took a shot that rebounded off Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid. Point positioned himself inside the defenseman and took a whack at it but didn't have the right angle and the puck squirted outside the post. Point kicked it up to himself, then tapped the goal into the net.

At face value, it's a player jabbing at a rebound until it goes in, but he battled for the positioning and then played the angles to his advantage.

"We were skating that shift for sure," Point said. "We were getting on top of them, creating turnovers and having the mentality of getting pucks on net."

That first shift of the period set the tone going forward as the Lightning started pouring on goals. It needed those goals after a relative drought by Tampa Bay's terms.

Not only did Arizona beat the Lightning 7-1 on Saturday, but they played a close, defensive 1-0 game against Colorado a few days before that.

The Lightning got its offensive groove back and then made it look easy on Tuesday. It was an unlikely candidate that got in started: stay-at-home defenseman Braydon Coburn. He had two goals in the first period, his first multi-goal game since Oct. 31, 2009, the first assisted, of course, by Point.

"Pointer just controls the game with his speed," Coburn said. "He is all over the ice. He's got the puck. He supports the puck. He is on top of guys. He is so tight defensively and I think it frustrates offensive guys. When he gets the puck, he's gone. He takes advantage offensively. He uses his speed to create space and chances for himself and his teammates."