The Tampa Bay Lightning finished off their three game road-trip with a 6-3 win Tuesday night over the Philadelphia Flyers. With the win, Tampa Bay managed to take four out of the possible six points in their three games on the road and have now won six of their last seven.
Nikita Kucherov had yet another big night with three goals and an assist. Tampa Bay grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period and added to it less than three minutes into the second period with Kucherov’s second goal of the night.
The Flyers would get a pair of goals back in the second before Mikey Eyssimont’s power play goal which would hold up as the game winning goal. Philadelphia would get a third goal in the opening seconds of the third period but were unable to get anything else before the Lightning added two empty net goals.
Nikita Kucherov’s hat-trick in Philadelphia put him back into the top spot in the league’s scoring race. Kucherov became the first player this season to reach the 80 point mark and he did so in just 47 games. Kucherov’s hat-trick was his first since the 2021-22 season and the fifth of his career.
Kucherov has already passed last year’s goal total with 31 and seems to be on his way to passing his career high total of 41. It was a relatively quiet trip for Kucherov who had just one point in his last two games but Tuesday night’s effort catapulted him into the lead for the Art Ross Trophy.
Picking up the Pace with Rookie Defensemen
The Lightning’s game has been rounding into form over their last six-seven games. Over the course of those games, they have been without Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak and rookies Emil Lilleberg and Max Crozier have been shouldering bigger loads. With the Lightning dressing seven defenseman Tuesday, these two rookies played over 30 minutes after Phil Myers got banged up after blocking a shot in the second period.
Crozier was able to pick up his first NHL point Tuesday in just his fifth game. Crozier’s shot-pass found the tape of Brayden Point for the game’s first goal. Crozier is going to make it tough to take him out of the lineup once Cernak and Sergachev are healthy but he is taking full advantage of the opportunity and gaining confidence while playing alongside Lilleberg as the two played together during their time in Syracuse this season.
Vasilevskiy’s Upward Trend Continues
Andrei Vasilevskiy had perhaps his best effort of the season Sunday in Detroit in a losing effort. His play was strong once again Tuesday night as he stopped 29 of 32 shots.
Vasilevskiy has now won five of his last six starts and has not had a save percentage below .900 in a game since allowing seven goals on January 6th in Boston. Vasilevskiy’s start to the season was a bit slow after missing all of the preseason and first two months of the season with back surgery. It was no surprise it has taken a while for him to round into form but over the last stretch of games, he has looked a lot like the goalie that you expect him to be.