The Lightning’s offensive outburst in an 8-2 Eastern Conference final win against the Islanders Monday night was nothing short of impressive.
The last time the New York allowed eight goals in a postseason match was Game 2 against Philadelphia in 1980. The Lightning had only scored eight goals in a playoff game once before (Game 5 of the 2011 conference quarterfinals vs. Pittsburgh).
And most of Game 1′s notable plays Monday in Edmonton came from Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, who combined for 10 points.
“When I think about Jon Cooper having the last change, it didn’t matter who they put out against that (Kucherov-Point-Ondrej Palat line),” Dave Andreychuk said in the Fox Sports Sun post-game show. “They were flying.”
Kucherov notched four assists and a goal while Point netted two goals — his second coming on the power play — and three assists. The tandem made history as the first Lightning players to record five points each in a playoff game.
There wasn’t any way Kucherov’s return to the ice — after leaving Game 5 of the Boston series early — could have been missed.
”He’s got such good puck skills; he can put the puck wherever he wants,” Point said of Kucherov. “He sees the ice better than most guys. He sees it so well, even if you don’t think he sees you, he see you. He puts guys in great spots.”
Kucherov logged assists on Victor Hedman’s power-play goal, Ryan McDonagh’s 4-1 goal, Point’s second goal of the night and Palat’s 7-2 goal. Kucherov recorded his 23rd multi-point postseason game. He only trails Martin St. Louis (24).
Kucherov’s assists on the Lightning’s two power-play goals (from Hedman and Point) tied him with Steven Stamkos for most power-play points in the postseason at 28. The right wing has 15 assists in these playoffs, previously matched by St. Louis and Brad Richards in 2004.
Kucherov’s third-period goal — with assists from Point and Kevin Shattenkirk — gave the Lightning a 6-1 lead. It also moved him into sole possession of the franchise’s postseason goal-scoring mark (34), one more than St. Louis.
Point’s work on the ice hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates either. The shutdown center opened scoring 1:14 into the game.
When asked if there was anything Point couldn’t do, Hedman responded: “I’m not sure. I think he set the tone from the start. Him, Kuch and Pally were unbelievable once, again, today, but Brayden Point is taking it to another level, that’s for sure.”
In the second period, Point found the open net again. Kucherov shuffled out a pass to Hedman from the right faceoff circle, then Hedman took a shot on goal from the top of the slot. Point was able to get his stick on the puck to knock it past Semyon Varlamov for the 5-1 lead.
“He’s really getting command of his game,” Cooper said of Point. “And when you play the right way, I truly believe good things will happen to you and I believe that’s what that kid does.”