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Kucherov Retakes NHL Scoring Lead, Powers Lightning Past Flyers, 5-3

(Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

After Nathan MacKinnon came into Philadelphia and took the NHL scoring lead from Nikita Kucherov with his 5-point performance, Kucherov scored a hat trick and added an assist to retake his throne with the Tampa Bay Lightning cruising past the Philadelphia Flyers, 6-3.

The Lightning jumped ahead to a 3-0 lead with 2 goals from Kucherov and one from Brayden Point before the Flyers clawed their way back into the game with tallies from Cam Atkinson and Jamie Drysdale. Atkinson then took a penalty which proved fatal as Michael Eyssimont score the eventual game winner before the 2nd period came to a close.

Cam York got the Flyers back to within one just 42 seconds into the third but that’s all they could muster up against Andre Vasilevskiy before Brandon Hagel and Kucherov scored consecutive empty-netters.

Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for his 14th win of the season, while Samuel Ersson made 16 saves on 20 shots en route to his 2nd straight defeat.

Looking to snap out of their 2-game losing streak and get back to their winning ways, the Flyers welcomed the streaking Lightning into the confines of the Wells Fargo Center. After two disappointing losses over the weekend, the Flyers made one change to their lineup with Olle Lycksell replacing the recently-demoted Bobby Brink.

Samuel Ersson was given the starting nod earlier in the day with Carter Hart not being present at practice. We later found out that he was granted an indefinite leave of absence due to personal reasons.

As for the Lightning, they entered tonight having won 7 of their last 10 are were once again knee-deep in the thick of a heated playoff race. The usual suspects paced the club with Nikita Kucherov having an astonishing 76 points in 46 games, followed by Brayden Point‘s 48, Victor Hedman‘s 45, and Steven Stamkos‘ 42.

Andrei Vasilevskiy earned the start in what has been an uncharacteristically disappointing season for the veteran. He missed the first few months with an injury but has gone 13-10-0 since with a 2.83 GAA and a .901 SV%. For reference, his next lowest SV% total was .910 back in 2015-16.


106 seconds into the game, the Lightning scored the game’s opening goal after Brayden Point deflected a Maxwell Crozier slap-shot past Samuel Ersson for his 22nd of the season. The Flyers failed to clear the puck out of the zone and it landed right on Crozier’s stick before firing a perfect shot-pass towards Point.

6:35 into the period, Anthony Cirelli was nailed down for a tripping minor against Cam Atkinson. Unfortunately, it yielded no results as the 12th ranked penalty kill of the Lightning made easy work of the confounded power play.

The period was flying by until Rasmus Ristolainen was nailed for tripping minor with 3:17 left to play. The Lightning didn’t score on the power play but 2 seconds after its expiration, Nikita Kucherov potted his 29th goal of the season after wiring a one-timer over the shoulder of Ersson.

The period ended with the Flyers trailing 2-0 with the Lightning down in shots 7-5.


Sean Walker was nailed for a hooking minor as Point was barrelling in on a breakaway just 96 seconds in. The Lightning, who were 2 seconds short from scoring on their first opportunity, took almost no time in finally adding to their NHL-leading power play totals with Kucherov scoring his 2nd of the night and 30th of the season.

47 seconds into Walker’s minor, Point found Kucherov all alone on the other side of the net as the Flyers were discombobulated by a play from behind the net.

The Flyers finally solved Andrei Vasilevskiy with 10:04 left on the clock after Atkinson deflected a Joel Farabee cross-seam pass from along the boards for his 13th of the season and 5th goal in 6 games since his lengthy 26-game goalless drought. For Farabee, the assist extended his point streak to 7 and set a new career-high in points with 40.

Brandon Hagel was then nailed for a hooking minor with 7:41 remaining in the middle frame. With mere seconds remaining on the man advantage, Jamie Drysdale scored his first career power play goal and subsequently his first a Flyer. He wired a shot from the point low-blocker after being set up by a nifty feed from Morgan Frost.

Atkinson was nailed for a hooking minor with 3:48 left to play. The lethal top unit quickly tic-tac-toed to re-take a 2-goal lead after Victor Hedman’s initial blast went wide. Michael Eyssimont was the recipient of a quick Kucherov one-touch feed for his 8th of the season with 1:30 into the power play.

On the final shift of the period, the top line was in Tampa’s end for 90 seconds, fired 7 shots towards the net with only 2 making it to Vasilevskiy but they had the Lightning in sorts.

The Flyers were far more the aggressive team, the hungrier looking club, and pressuring the Lightning to no end but the star power on Tampa Bay’s end was too much for them to handle after 40 minutes.


At the sound of the buzzer to end the second period, a melee ensued with penalties being handed out to Travis Sanheim and Hedman, having the third period start 4-on-4.

42 seconds into the final frame, Cam York followed his own rebound and after having his shot blocked and batted the puck out of the air with a wicked backhand for his 6th of the season to bring the Flyers back within 1.

The game completely opened up with both sides flying from end-to-end, tempers were flaring, penalties were missed, scrums ensued after whistles, and coaches were yelling. However, nobody could pot the 8th goal of the game.

With 2:42 left, the Flyers pulled Ersson and amidst a myriad of chances, an Egor Zamula point shot that missed the net was the catalyst for the Lightning to jettison from defense to offense to score the empty-netter and ice the game with about 59 seconds left, courtesy of Hagel’s 14th of the season.

Kucherov then completed his hat trick with an empty net goal with 10.1 seconds left on the clock for his 31st goal of the season and 80th point – in just 47 games.


The Flyers head out on the road to play the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Thursday (7:00pm ET, NBCSP).

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