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Burns: 3 Things we learned from a shootout win over the Kings

Bryan Burns on a quick response after a slow start, Kucherov's big goal and success in the shootout

by Bryan Burns @BBurnsNHL /

Tampa Bay wasn't as sharp against Los Angeles Tuesday night at AMALIE Arena as it had been over its recent 10-game win streak.

The Lightning still won anyway.

The Bolts overcame an early two-goal deficit to tie the game by the first intermission. Then after giving up a power-play goal with eight minutes remaining, ending the Bolts' streak of 20-consecutive penalty kills - the Lightning found a late equalizer on the stick of Nikita Kucherov in a 6-on-5 situation with 1:15 to go, Kucherov blasting a shot off a face-off top shelf over Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to force overtime and an eventual shootout.

In the shootout, Brayden Point (2nd Round) and Steven Stamkos (4th Round) converted for the Lightning, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped three of Los Angeles' four attempts to send the Bolts to their sixth-consecutive victory on home ice and eighth win in a row over a Pacific Division team dating back to last season.

Vasilevskiy pushed his win streak to nine games, tied for the second longest of his career and two wins from matching the longest goalie win streak in franchise history.

Tampa Bay was able to overcome some sloppy early play and a stagnant offense to reach 60 points on the season Tuesday night.

Here's how the Lightning were able to survive their shortcomings.

Video: LAK@TBL: Killorn fires wrister past Quick's glove

The Lightning weren't crisp at the beginning of the game, perhaps a bit of a hangover from having their 10-game win streak snapped two nights earlier in New Jersey.

The Bolts turned the puck over frequently, had trouble connecting passes and left Kings to skate free in the offensive zone, all things they didn't do during their 10-game win streak.

Los Angeles punished the Lightning for their early miscues.

Jeff Carter was allowed to stand at the edge of the crease without any challenge and easily tap a rebound into a partially-open net for the game's opening goal just 4:18 into the contest.

Los Angeles doubled its lead a little less than three minutes later, Kyle Clifford shooting through a screen from the top of the left circle, the Kings again allowed to skate free near the blue paint without any resistance from the Bolts.

'They got a couple quick goals just by doing simple things, and it was a matter of us kind of taking a page out of their book," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said of the Lightning's recovery from the early deficit.

As poorly as the Lightning started Tuesday's game, they quickly regained their composure to answer before the end of the opening period.

Alexander Volkov made a nifty move to elude Drew Doughty as he entered the offensive zone then spun and found a trailing Alex Killorn for Killorn's career high-tying 19th goal of the season and Volkov's first NHL point in his seventh game.

"It kind of settled us down once we got that one," Shattenkirk said.

Just 1:19 later, Steven Stamkos tied the game 2-2 after backhanding a rebound on a rush into an open net.

"You (play) 82 games, you're not going to start perfect every single time," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "We've played a lot of hockey. It was a little concerning to be down two the way we came out for the game, but I tend to look at the positive and say I like the way we finished the period and to get it back to even was definitely what we needed. We needed a jump. Give L.A. credit, they came out and skated hard right from the get go and took us a little bit to get our feet wet, but once we did we were okay."

Video: LAK@TBL: Kucherov blisters late game-tying goal

Down 3-2 late, the Lightning were in danger of falling for the second-consecutive game and to another team near the bottom of the NHL standings.

But the Bolts kept pushing, even as chance after chance fell by the wayside. With 1:48 remaining in the contest, Andrei Vasilevskiy raced to the bench to give the Lightning an extra attacker.

About 30 seconds later, Kucherov delivered the play of the game.

Anthony Cirelli won a face-off in the offensive zone and somehow delivered a blind pass while falling down to Kucherov at the top of the circle. The Russian right wing knew just what to do with the opportunity. He absolutely blistered a one-timer into the top corner of the net over Quick's blocker to level the score 3-3 and salvage at least a point for the Lightning.

"I think we were due 6-on-5 at some point," Cooper said. "We've been close and haven't been able to get one. Big-time shot by Kuch. It was one of those when you're staring zero points in the face and you end up coming away with two, you've got to take that and run. Even though I thought we deserved points from this game, your odds aren't as high when you're down a goal with a minute left. Big play by the boys, and we got two out of it."

Don't overlook Cirelli's play to set up Kucherov's game-tying goal. The third-year center outdueled the Kings' Jeff Carter for the offensive zone face-off. As Carter pushed him down to the ice on his butt, Cirelli was able to slip a pass through Carter's legs and into an open area for Kucherov. Cirelli never saw the puck go in the net because he was lying face down on the ice when Kucherov ripped his shot.

"I think when you have him on your team, he seems to do all that stuff every game," Shattenkirk said. "You don't want to say it gets old because when other guys do it, they're great plays but for him he does it night in and night out. It's obviously a testament to the type of player he is. He just doesn't stop on his battles and wins most of them. When you're on the ice, you can kind of anticipate he's going to come out of a battle with the puck most of the time."

Video: LAK@TBL: Point wires home wrister for SO goal

Tampa Bay hasn't reached the shootout too often this season. The Bolts' shootout against the Kings was just their second of the season.

They've come away victorious in both.

Tuesday's shootout win over Los Angeles came courtesy of a couple precise shots from shootout veterans combined with some big-time stops by Vasilevskiy.

Brayden Point, who had a phenomenal record in shootouts two seasons ago when he went 5-for-8 but cooled considerably since, rediscovered his magic from 2017-18, confidently striking his shootout attempt, finding a soft spot to shoot and quickly firing off a shot to hit the back of the net and give the Lightning their first successful conversion of the shootout in the second round.

Point has now connected on 47.8 percent of his shootout attempts, the third-best shootout percentage in Lightning history among players with five or more shootout shots.

Los Angeles' Nikolai Prokhorkin leveled the shootout 1-1 moments later after converting his second round attempt, the only one to beat Vasilevskiy on the night.

After Nikita Kucherov had his shot stopped by a phenomenal right leg save from Quick in the third round, Vasilevskiy emerged as the Lightning's hero, swiping Adrian Kempe's shot with the glove to keep the shootout going.

In the fourth and what would prove to be the final round, Steven Stamkos kissed the crossbar with his shot before it dropped down and over the goal line. Stamkos has scored a Lightning franchise record 15 shootout goals and improved to 31.9 percent for his career.

With the game in the balance, Vasilevskiy made one final denial, stopping Dustin Brown with a kick back of his left leg to secure the hard-fought, come-from-behind victory for the Lightning.

"It just felt weird, we haven't been in a shootout in a long time, but it's good when the guys go out there and score," Cooper said. "(Point) made a nice one. Kuch had a nice move, Quick made a hell of a save. It was good to have Stammer there for a big one."

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