The Lightning looked sharp and in playoff form yesterday in their 5-0 win over the Florida Panthers.
The Bolts started quickly with two goals by Braydon Point in the first period to put the Lightning up 2-0, and the Bolts never looked back.
The line of Point, Palat, and Kucherov was unstoppable as they combined for four goals and six assists in the win over the Panthers.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 Panther shots including three breakaway chances. He looked sharp and ready for the first round-robin game on Monday.
Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman did not play in the Lightning win as Stamkos is still recovering from a lower-body injury. Hedman stayed behind to tend to some personal matters and will fly to Toronto on Friday.
It will be interesting to see what Cooper does with Stamkos when he is ready to play. You would hate to read up that chemistry that Point and Kucherov have right now.
Cooper was pleased with the way his team played. Talking about the play of Point and Kucherov Cooper said, “They’re just exceptional players that can make creative, skilled plays at a high, high pace. They’ve had time to play together. It’s not like they were thrown together yesterday. They just can play at such a high pace with such skill. Not too many guys can do that.”
The Lightning special teams were sharp as well. Kucherov had a power-play goal and the Lightning killed off all four of the Panther power plays.
The PK was an area the Lightning had struggled in all season. It was good to see them shut down the Panthers power play.
It was a different look with no fans in the stands, but once the puck dropped and the game started, it wasn’t much of an issue.
This was the type of game we were hoping to see from the Lightning. They started quickly right from the puck drop. The special teams were excellent, and the play of Vezina nominee Andrei Vasilevskiy was outstanding.
The one concern for the Lightning was the lack of physical play outside of the Mikhail Sergachev/Brian Boyle fight.
The Lightning has struggled against the bigger and more physical teams in the past. The team took some steps to address that picking up Stanley Cup Champion Pat Maroon from the Blues, and defensemen Zach Bogosian.
Panthers coach Joel Quenneville was not impressed with his team’s effort. “We stood around watching all day long. And it wasn’t fun.”
Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky started slowly, but Quenneville thought he got better as the game went along.
The Panthers have two practices before their qualifying series beguine against the New York Islanders on Saturday.
The Lightning will have a couple of more practice sessions before their game against the Washington Capitals on Monday Afternoon.
The Capitals beat Carolina 3-2 in their exhibition game.