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Burns: 3 things from a ninth-straight win over Detroit

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings

by Bryan Burns /

Recap: DET 2, TBL 3

Kucherov, Stamkos pace Lightning in 3-2 win

Nikita Kucherov tallied two points and Steven Stamkos scored to extend each of their point streaks to 11 games in the Lightning's 3-2 victory

  • 04:35 •

The Tampa Bay Lightning just have Detroit's number these last few seasons.

The Lightning handed the Red Wings their sixth-straight loss on Thursday, the Bolts holding on for a 3-2 victory at AMALIE Arena.

Tampa Bay has now won nine in a row over Detroit in the regular season. The Lightning have defeated the Red Wings eight-straight times at home.

Why have the Bolts had so much success over the Wings recently?

We'll take a look at that and other storylines from Tampa Bay's ninth win of the season in Three Things from defeating Detroit.

Video: DET@TBL: Kucherov unleashes wicked wrister for PPG


The chemistry that Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov have developed in just a short amount of time has been reminiscent of some of the more famous duos in Lightning history, namely Lecavalier and St. Louis and Stamkos and St. Louis.

Kucherov fed Stamkos for the Lightning's go-ahead goal on Thursday, the Russian sending a cross-ice pass into the left circle for Stamkos to one-time home like he's done so often in his career.

Both players extended their season-opening scoring streaks to 11 games, tying Marty St. Louis for the franchise record for most games with a point to start a season.

Kucherov continues to pace the NHL for goals (12). Stamkos continues to lead the league for assists (17) and scoring (21 points).

The fact Stamkos recognizes how hot Kucherov is right now and has adjusted his game to be more of a facilitator than the pure goal scorer he's been through much of his career shows just how unselfish Stamkos is and how much the two superstars enjoy playing with one another.

"I think we just think the same way," Stamkos said following the game. "You could say we're both shooters and we're both playmakers and you look for each other on the ice and Vladdy complements us both so well that things obviously took off last year when we got a chance to play with each other. But I think it's just knowing what each other are going to do next. Sometimes you never get that with someone, but it's almost being unpredictably predictable. I don't even know if that makes sense. It makes sense for me and it makes sense for Kuch. That's all that matters I guess. It's just knowing what he's going to do but the other team not knowing what he's going to do. That makes more sense. It's just easy when you can make those reads off each other and when you know if he gets the puck in this area, this is what his first thought is."

Like Stamkos used to push St. Louis back when those two used to play with one another, Stamkos said Kucherov pushes him to be a better player now because of the work he puts into his game and the skill he demonstrates on the ice.

"To see him work as hard as he does at his game, I want to be right there with him just to keep up with him," Stamkos said.

The symbiotic relationship between the two has been a joy to watch for Lightning fans.

And it's also led to the Bolts' blazing start to the season.

 Video: DET@TBL: Stamkos one-times Kucherov's feed for PPG

The Lightning power play has been the best in the NHL since the start of the 2016-17 season. Coming into Thursday's contest, the Bolts' PP had netted 74 goals since the start of last season, more than any other team in the NHL.

But the power play has reached an even higher level of greatness over the last few games.

Tampa Bay netted two more power-play goals on Thursday, giving them six over their last three games and clicking at a 50 percent rate over that stretch.

Although the Lightning gave up a shorthanded goal 14 minutes into the game, they quickly made up for the gaffe, Kucherov netting his 12th goal of the season on the Bolts' third power play of the game after Detroit was whistled for too many men.

"We talk a lot. That helps," Kucherov said of what makes the power play work so well. "We just try to create chances off of their mistakes. It's been good so far."

On Stamkos' go-ahead goal, Kucherov drew the defense his way then slid a puck through traffic into the left circle for Stamkos to hammer home.

Opposing penalty kills have to pick their poison with the Lightning power play. Shade too far to take away the league's leading goal scorer in Kucherov, and you leave Stamkos wide open in the left circle. Try to take Stamkos away and Kucherov with his deceptive shot can snap one in the back of the net in the blink of an eye.

"Kuch did a good job on selling the shot and faking it," Stamkos said of his power-play goal. "Teams are going to have to decide who they want to over play. Tonight they over played him, and I got an open net off a great pass."

Both Lightning power play units are clicking right now.

And any time the opposing team takes a penalty, chances are, the Bolts are going to convert.

 Video: DET@TBL: Vasilevskiy stones Tatar, Zetterberg

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29-of-31 saves to win his eighth-straight game, the second-longest win streak (in decisions) for a goalie in Lightning history and just one win behind John Grahame's franchise record of nine set during the 2005-06 season.

Vasilevskiy leads the NHL for wins (9). In his last six starts, he's given up seven goals total.

But after the game, Vasilevskiy said he wasn't on top of his game, and he relied on the players in front of him to bail him out.

"It wasn't perfect tonight," Vasilevskiy admitted. "I gave up a lot of rebounds. The team played well tonight. Some games they will help me and some games I will help them, so it's all about teamwork."

But as tough as Vasilevskiy is on himself, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was effusive with praise for his fourth-year goalie.

"I'm shocked you guys are saying he wasn't at his best. I thought he was great," Cooper said, in response to a question asking what it says that Vasilevskiyi can still find a way to win when he's not at his best. "If you're going to give up two goals a night every night, there's a good chance you're going to be in Vegas in June [at the NHL Awards]. That's a heck of a night. He's not going to stop every single puck…When you break down, you need someone there to bail you out. He's been doing that for us."

Vasilevskiy bailed out the Lightning late in the second period when Andreas Athanasiou was wide open in front of the net and received a pass from behind the net. Vasilevskiy instinctively slid over to block Athanasiou's shot, keeping the Bolts in the lead and keeping the Red Wings frustrated at their inability to slip one in the net.

Vasilevskiy's been frustrating every opponent on a nightly basis.

And the fact he feels he could be even better should cause even more concern for opposing teams.

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