The last month or so of Tampa Bay Lightning hockey has been a roller coaster filled with more downs than ups. Inconsistent play led to the team skidding down the stretch even with their playoff fate known for months. After losing their last four games heading into game 82, Tampa Bay ended the season with a 5-0 shutout victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
In a meaningless game in the standings, probably the biggest thing worth watching for was Braden Point sitting on 49 goals. Point would reach 50 in the third period on a power play goal and would add his 51st later in the game with an empty netter.
Point became just the third player in Lightning history to reach 50 goals, joining Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. Point also is just the fifth player in the NHL to reach 50 goals this season.
This was probably the quietest 50 goal season of all time. Very little national attention is paid to Point considering the other superstars on his own team. A lot of the national spotlight is also sucked up by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in Edmonton and rightfully so. Fittingly though, Point would probably not have it any other way. Flying under the radar is what he has done his entire career.
“He has really turned himself into a premier player in this league” said Coach Jon Cooper on Point after game, adding that 50 is “another feather in his cap”. On top of being a key piece of two Stanley Cup Championships, Brayden Point will forever be a 50 goal scorer in the NHL.
Brian Elliott also ended the season on a high, recording his first shutout shutout of the season. Elliott would stop all 32 Red Wings shots in what will likely be his last appearance of the season and possibly his last with the Lightning.
Elliott has had some struggles down the stretch this season, allowing 18 goals in his last three games. Thursday provided a brilliant chance to end the season on a positive note, especially after being able to line up with his son on the ice for the National Anthem.
Amongst all the positivity that came out of this one, Tampa Bay played a very solid game from start to finish. The wins and losses have not meant much for a while as there are bigger fish to fry coming real soon. They know when it is go time and that time is now. They were able to end the season feeling good about the way they played in the final game but now those last 82 games don’t mean a thing.