Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos shredded the Islanders defense with a perfect passing play, and Kucherov said he wouldn’t mind a few more games against the struggling New York squad.
Following the Lightning’s shutout victory over the Islanders on Monday, Tampa Bay and New York have finished up their three-game season series little more than a month into the year. That might be the best thing for the Islanders, too.
It was evident how outmatched the Islanders were offensively in the Lightning’s 4-0 victory, and no single play highlighted that more than Tampa Bay’s third goal, which was a combination of speed, skill and finish from two star players that turned the Islanders defense inside out.
The play started with an offensive zone turnover by the Islanders, which was quickly turned up ice by Nikita Kucherov. As Kucherov cut into the Islanders’ zone, he spotted Steven Stamkos trailing the play and made a quick backhand pass that eluded Islanders captain John Tavares and landed on the tape of Stamkos. With the defense parting to pick up Stamkos, the Lightning captain then made a perfect tape-to-tape feed back across the zone to Kucherov, who had no problem slipping home a near empty-net goal:
That was a thing of beauty, and a fitting way for the penultimate goal of the season series between the two teams to be scored.
The two clubs have squared off three times in the past two weeks and the Lightning, well, they made quick work of the Islanders. The combined score of the defeats was 14-2 in a three-game set New York will be quick to forget. The Lightning, however, said they wouldn’t mind a few more games against the Islanders at some point this season, according to Kucherov.
“I wish we could play them more,” Kucherov said following Monday’s game, per the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith. That’s a truthful gut-punch to the Islanders, but the other half of the slick give-and-go even got in on the fun post-game, with Stamkos quipping that he was sure the Islanders were “happy to be done” with playing the Lightning this season.
While that may seem like unexpected trash talk, it’s hard to really disagree with either player’s sentiment. The Lightning have dominated the Islanders three times in two weeks. That’s a rare feat, and Kucherov and Stamkos certainly wouldn’t mind the opportunity to shred a struggling team as many times as possible this season.
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