DENVER, Col. (FNN SPORTS) – The Tampa Bay Lightning made franchise history last night with their 11th straight win with an overtime victory against the Colorado Avalanche and what a game it was to watch! Both the Lightning and the Avalanche are known for having very skilled players. Nathan MacKinnon is among some of the most skilled and fastest skaters in the league, making it no surprise that he got Colorado on the board first, thanks to a pass from Mikko Rantanen.
The remainder of the first period went without goals due to solid efforts from both goalies. The Bolts controlled most of the second period. Under five minutes in, Alex Killorn wrapped the puck around the glass in the Avalanche’s offensive zone to Ondrej Palat and Palat fed it back to Killorn for his 23rd goal of the season, tying up the game. This set the momentum train in motion, because less than two minutes after Killorn’s goal, Cameron Gaunce ripped a shot off in traffic to put the Bolts in the lead 2-1. Gaunce said after the game, “it’s been something I’ve been working on a lot, when the puck comes off the board, getting that shot, and seeing it go in has a nice feel.”
As the period began winding down, Brayden Point made a fast effort up the ice in attempts to score, but his shot came off the goalie’s pad, creating another scoring opportunity that Steven Stamkos maximized on. Diving onto the ice to get the puck in the net, sending the Lightning up 3-1. 1:34 before the second period ended; MacKinnon danced through the Lightning o-zone to hit a top shelf goal and his second goal of the game minimizing the Bolts lead.
The third period opened up with Tampa Bay still in the lead 3-2 and continued scoring attempts up and down the ice. With 7:17 left in the third period, Colorado, with some quick puck movement, caused enough confusion for Cale Makar to come down the center and score a wrist shot, tying the game 3-3. The Bolts and the Avs held each other off from scoring, taking the game into overtime.
Strong defensive plays continued and one in particular was the game changer: As MacKinnon skated to set up an opportunity to pass or score, there was just enough room for Kucherov to steal the puck for a breakaway and score in the goalie’s five hole, sealing the Lightning’s 11th straight win with a final score of 4-3, the most consecutive wins in franchise history.
Although an entertaining game nonetheless, Kucherov had a closer perspective and diagnosis of the game, saying, “it wasn’t a good game for us. We need to have the puck on our sticks more, and more puck possession in their o-zone.” But it’s that kind of “we can do better” mentality that separates good teams from great teams and the Lightning have all the potential to be a great team.
The Lightning head off to Las Vegas to face the Golden Knights, and the newest addition to Tampa Bay’s defense will officially join them. Blake Coleman, the Bolts recent trade acquire as of Sunday, February 16, 2020, will make his Lightning debut. In his initial trade statement, Coleman expressed his excitement for this new chapter and how he feels he’ll fit in with this team. Coleman said, he’s familiar with Coach Cooper’s coaching and playbook style after facing him in the USHL. Coleman said, “They’re bringing me in because I have a playoff-type game, a will to compete and a will to win.” We’ll see how this new chapter unfolds and if Tampa Bay can make it 12 wins on Thursday.
Kasey Hudson is the Associate Sports Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org