Bolts Continue Climb, Take Down Coyotes

by | Jan 26, 2024

Bolts Continue Climb, Take Down Coyotes

by | Jan 26, 2024

TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning had a total mix of production from the normal veterans, but some recent members of the Syracuse Crunch, Tampa Bay’s AAA  affiliate, also helped in the Bolts’ 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes in Amalie Arena on Thursday evening.

Thursday evening, Tampa Bay was able to dominate the Coyotes and goalie Connor Ingram, who had only given up one goal in two previous outings vs. the Lightning. On Thursday, the plot thickened for Ingram when the Lightning kept a consistent and steady offensive approach in scoring six goals on 37 shots.

“We just wanted to get some more traffic in front and I thought the first goal was a perfect example,” said Lightning center Steven Stamkos. “He didn’t see it and we certainly got the puck in front and got rewarded.”

While four Bolts scored four consecutive goals to stake the Lightning to a 5-1 at 15:20 in the second period, this was a precursor for the Lightning to take seven of their last eight games.

“It’s a confidence thing for sure,” said Stamkos. “You get a couple of wins together and it snowballs and that goes both ways. The confidence is higher in this room and I think we worked on some things systematically.”

Tampa Bay’s power play is 9-for-18 in the last five of those games and the Bolts have only missed one penalty kill in the eight games in the 7-1 ledger.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 17 shots on the evening and he was only the recipient of 20 Coyotes shots which illustrated how tough the Tampa Bay defense was on the evening.

“We are just more sound in our own end,” noted Cooper.  It was unfortunate tonight  that we felt every time we got in a little bit of trouble it would end up in the net and that was a bit of a downer.

Lightning star Nikita Kucherov had a goal and two assists, which gave him 83 points to re-emerge as the NHL scoring leader over Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon. Stamkos found Kucherov at the outside of the right circle and he slapped a one-timer past Ingram to give the Lightning a 3-1 lead at 7:36 in the second period.

Both players figured into a streak of four consecutive scores as Kucherov hit Stamkos with a pass in the middle of the left circle. Stamkos then lifted the puck over Ingram’s shoulder for his 20th goal of the season and a 4-1 Bolts advantage via the power play.

The string of four goals started when Brayden Point  scored his 23rd goal of the season to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead at 19:24 in the first. Tampa Bay won a face-off deep in it’s own zone. Kucherov gathered the puck at his blue line and flipped it across the ice to Point.

When the Lightning forward corralled the puck, he flew past Arizona defenseman Travis Dermott, on the left side, where he entered the Coyotes zone and lifted the puck over Ingram’s left shoulder and into the corner of the net.

“I think guys are feeling good about themselves,” explained Cooper. “There’s a lot of belief in the team and the way we are playing. There was a lot of things that went against us early on that we just felt that, ‘Hey this has got to turn at some point.'”

A Bridge to Youthfulness: Tampa Bay’s fifth goal was about aggressive and resilient play of several Lightning players who have made their way from Syracuse in recent weeks.

Linesman Mitchell Chaffee was back in Amalie Arena on Wednesday and his play on Monday was a strong addition to add with potentially the most solid offensive game so far this season. Chaffee scored his first career goal when Max Crozier’s diagonal shot from the right hit the left post and Chaffee scored on a rebound in front of the crease.

Crozier was called back up from Syracuse on Jan. 16 and has been impressive with his diverse abilities on the ice.

“We had four Syracuse kids on the ice for that goal,” Cooper commented. “I am happy we got to bring him back up. He got a raw deal when he came up for one game and didn’t play much. He really didn’t deserve that.”

Center Walteri Merela and defenseman Emil Lilleberg comprised the four Nationals that were on the ice at the time of the Chaffee goal.

“Some of the winning we have done lately –  some of that you can attribute to the guys from Syracuse that have been bringing up,” said Cooper. “Guys are really cheering for them on the bench and when they score like that, guys are really pumped.”

Cooper characterizes Crozier with “a lot of swag.”

“He’s a competitor and that is at least what we see from those two defenseman back there,” said Cooper. “They don’t back down, they are not fazed. Even though they would take back some of the plays they made in the defensive zone, that happens in this league.”

Cooper also said that the AAA players from Syracuse have lit a fire in the locker room that has carries over to all of the players.

“The youthful energy brought into this room the last few weeks has been great and not for just the way they have played on the ice,” evaluated Cooper. “That anxiousness; that nervousness that you have from these young guys has been a help as well. (They have provided) maybe a jolt and they have certainly played with energy as well.

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