NHL Hockey: An Historic Night In Tampa Bay

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The NHL is winding down as the regular season is ending. The last games happened on Thursday. The saddest part of the season is seeing the Phoenix Coyotes moving to Utah. Ownership has done the franchise and the fans of the organization so wrong. The game I attended was between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both teams had clinched a postseason berth. They also scratched many players because the playoffs start this weekend. Two players were to try to have career goals or assists. Austin Matthews had 69 goals and was looking for 70. The Maple Leafs were on a three-game losing streak. Nikita Kucherov had 99 assists and was trying to be the first winger to have 100 assists in a season. He would also be the fifth player in NHL history to get 100 assists.

Photo Credit: Bradley Walker NGSC Sports

With all the players being rested and both teams in the playoffs, 100% effort was not on display in this game. Both teams’ fans filled Amalie Arena. The Lightning started the scoring at the 3:58 mark scored by Nick Paul. Just three minutes later Tampa got on the board again the goal scored by Kucherov. By the end of the first period, the Lightning led the Maple Leafs 2-1. All night long the Lightning were giving out stuff to the fans. So in between periods certain rows and fans would win stuff. At this point, neither Matthews nor Kucherov had gotten that magic point yet. Shortly into the second period, Tampa scored their fourth goal off the stick of Anthony Duclair. As the second period was winding down, Kucherov got an assist and his teammates and the fans erupted!

 

The cheers of “MVP MVP” rained down from the rafters of Amalie Arena. It was the first time that many saw him smile. Shortly after that as he was sitting on the bench, Brandon Hagel scored a goal on a hell of a pass from Calvin De Haan to extend thee Tampa Bay lead to 5-1. The Lightning would add one more off the stick of Tanner Jeannot. I think at this point the Lightning took their foot off the gas and allowed three Toronto goals which would end the game with a 6-4 win for Tampa Bay. Listening to the post-game radio show they said this is what happens when the Lightning have a mental breakdown and let their opponents get back into the game.

Photo Credit: Bradley Walker NGSC Sports

In the end, the Tampa Bay Lightning got the win and had the same number of points they did last season. Head coach Jon Cooper said when he saw Kucherov’s 100 assists that it would only be behind the final 10 seconds on the team’s back-to-back Stanley Cups wins. The Lightning now turn their attention to their in-state rival the Florida Panthers. Many think that the teams do not have a rivalry because they do not see each other in the playoffs. Well, the last two years have met Tampa got the best of them last year. The series starts on Sunday just after noon EST. Let’s go Lightning! As for the Maple Leafs, they get to play a team that knocks them out of the playoffs in the Boston Bruins.

 

Who will win between the Lightning and the Panthers? Leave a comment below.

For all your NHL news log on to NGSCsports.com.

For more follow me on Facebook: Bradley Louis Walker, On X: bradwalker3083, and my weekly sports podcast: The Walker Report.

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