Lightning-Panthers match 4 review: more good than harm

With Yanni Gourde, you take the bad with the good.

This is especially good, as the Lightning’s third row center typically generates an attack around the net, wins faceoffs, kills penalties, or contributes to the second power play unit.

He’s often better when he’s at his worst, getting under the opponent’s skin and pulling them out of their game. We saw it all in the first half of Game 4.

Gourde seemed determined to get into Jonathan Huberdeau’s head and dragged the Panthers wing into a scuffle within minutes of walking, dragging one of Florida’s most talented players into the penalty box with him. Center Anthony Cirelli scored the Lightning’s first goal 37 seconds later in the resulting four-on-four.

Gourde showed his own skills just over four minutes later, flipping a Nikita Kucherov shot just inside the blue line to double Lightning’s lead. It was a skillful deflection, a few feet wide from the net to the short side as he battled for position with Florida defenseman Markus Nutivaara.

But Gourde’s antics caught up with him later in the period he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct against Huberdeau, who made him pay for the offense by scoring on the power play that followed.

“This is playoff hockey,” Gourde said in an interview during the first intermission on Bally Sports Sun. “Me and Huberdeau are in competition and that’s what’s happening. When guys compete hard I think things can get a bit hot. But it’s hockey.

Winning in hockey, in the case of the Lightning.

To note: Unless

Here’s how we rated the rest of the Lightning’s performance in their 6-2 win in Game 4:

No answer for Kuch

Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov works along the boards against the Panthers in the third period. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Nikita Kucherov was the Lightning’s leading scorer in the Stanley Cup race last season and a deserving Conn Smythe contender.

This season, he seems to have a bigger title in mind: the best player in the world.

Rested after being absent from the regular season following hip surgery, Kucherov is the best player since the start of the playoffs. His goal and three assists on Saturday gave him nine points, including six assists, in his first four playoff games.

He’s particularly dangerous on the power play, hitting from anywhere. When he’s not scoring on a stopwatch from the right circle, he feeds Brayden Point into the lunge, setting Alex Killorn high in the area or, in the case of Gourde’s goal, putting a shot on goal from right in the lunge. inside the blue line.

Apparently the only way to slow Kucherov down is to injure him, which Anthony Duclair did in the third period, hitting Kucherov in the back of the leg on a dirty and unnecessary play far from the puck. Duclair received a two-minute penalty but seemed to deserve a lot more.

To note: One more

Vasilevskiy without being discouraged

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy makes a glove save on a Florida shot in the second period.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy makes a glove save on a Florida shot in the second period. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

The Lightning haven’t lost a back-to-back playoff game at any point in last season’s Cup race, with Andrei Vasilevskiy winning all of their seven games after a loss.

Two days after allowing six goals in the backhand of Game 3, Vasilevskiy was back at the top of his game, stopping 39 of 41 shots. Florida looked great and got traffic in net, but Vasilevskiy did well. followed the puck and remained in control despite the Panthers’ best attempts to shake it.

Patric Hornqvist was in Vasilevskiy’s face on a power play in the second period, but the Lightning goalie managed at one point to make a blocker save while looking over Hornqvist’s left shoulder and by stopping the puck on the other side of the Panthers forward.

Ryan Lomberg attempted to get under Vasilevskiy’s skin later in the period, hitting him twice in a scrum in front of the Lightning Net. No worse for wear, Vasilevskiy slipped shortly after to his left to stop a chance for Markus Nutivaara, left alone in front of the net, in a delayed penalty against Victor Hedman.

To note: A

Kill them

Lightning left winger Alex Killorn celebrates his goal by beating Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to come back 4-1.
Lightning left winger Alex Killorn celebrates his goal by beating Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to come back 4-1. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Killorn doesn’t just conduct entertaining interviews with his teammates and other local sports celebrities on his Sea-Doo. He is also a hell of a hockey player, whose value is too often underestimated.

It was in full view on Saturday, as Killorn scored two goals in the second period to put the Lightning to a 5-1 lead and had a chance to score a natural hat trick on a shorthanded breakaway more late in the period.

Killorn’s name comes up in business speculation a lot, mostly because of his contract, but he’s always been one of the Lightning’s best postseason players.

To note: A

He has his back

Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov collided with Panthers goalie Chris Driedger in the second period.
Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov collided with Panthers goalie Chris Driedger in the second period. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The Lightning penalty killers took over Kucherov after being inexplicably penalized for interfering with goalkeeper Chris Driedger in a breakaway late in the second period.

Mackenzie Weegar pushed Kucherov from behind as he slipped into Driedger on his own, and Kucherov slammed the helmet against the Florida goalkeeper, who had been on the ice for a long time after play.

But a power play from Florida that had scored twice earlier in the game never really threatened within two minutes of Kucherov’s penalty, which extended until the start of the third period. The Tampa Bay penalty killers didn’t give them the chance.

To note: B

• • •

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