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Rookie Point becomes Lightning's go-to shootout opener

“When I’m put in those situations, I am trying to make the most of it. I definitely take pride in helping us win,” Lightning center Brayden Point says of going first in shootouts.
“When I’m put in those situations, I am trying to make the most of it. I definitely take pride in helping us win,” Lightning center Brayden Point says of going first in shootouts.
Published Feb. 6, 2017

TAMPA — As the Lightning prepared for a shootout Saturday against the Ducks, coach Jon Cooper knew whom he wanted to take the first shot.

Usually the first shot sets the tone, and a successful one immediately puts pressure on the opposing team. Likewise, a miss and that team is immediately in a minihole, especially if the opposing team scores on its first attempt.

Cooper didn't hesitate to call on rookie center Brayden Point to take that first shot. In four previous attempts, the rookie had scored three times, and Saturday again proved that the moment is not too big for him. Point sped in and blistered a shot past Anaheim goalie Jonathan Bernier. The Lightning went on to win the shootout 3-2 and the game 3-2.

Point said that going first wasn't really added pressure.

"I would think there's more if you are going to win the game or have to keep (the shootout) going," Point said. "You like to start off with a goal, but I don't think first is more pressure.

"When I'm put in those situations, I am trying to make the most of it. I definitely take pride in helping us win, and hopefully that can continue."

Point has had a solid rookie season. In 39 games, he has five goals and 12 assists. Though his two-game goal streak came to an end Saturday, Point won 60 percent of his faceoffs and took 21 shifts. It was his third game back after missing the previous 14 with an upper-body injury.

Associate coach Rick Bowness said it doesn't appear that Point has missed a beat.

"He played really well before he got hurt," Bowness said. "He was one of our top players. This is a kid with a lot of speed, a lot of skill, a lot of hockey sense, a lot of compete. That's a good package.

"Brayden has stepped right in where he left off. He was playing really, really well before he left us with injury, and we noticed his absence. Now we've noticed his arrival back."

Point said that even while he was rehabilitating, he was thinking of ways to get better as a player. He said the time away from the game helped him to notice things that could help him in his return.

"I'd like to think I bring hard work and a little bit of offense," Point said. "Hopefully, I can be consistent with it."

Getting healthy: Wing Michael Bournival, who wore a noncontact jersey during the brief morning skate Saturday, was in a regular practice jersey Sunday and was a full participant. Bournival missed his fourth game with an upper-body injury and was still listed as day-to-day Sunday. … Forward Cedric Paquette, who left Saturday's game early, practiced.

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