So how did you spend your 21st birthday?
Odds are, Brayden Point has you beat. On Monday night, the rookie Point took over Madison Square Garden, scoring two goals to lead the Lightning to a 3-2 victory and brought the team to within one point of the final wild-card spot.
Point scored in the first and third periods, bringing his season total to 11 goals.
“I know this is cliché, it’s been used a million times, but he’s a hockey player,” coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s what he is. You saw it in the first development camp he came to us, he was more undersized than he is now, but I truly believe when you have commitment and the work ethic, that’s your first thing that you notice on a player, everything else will fall into place. And that’s what that kid has. He goes into a corner, and it doesn’t matter the size of the guy he’s going in against, I’m always sitting there thinking, ‘He’s going to come out with this.’ And you’ve got to have a will, and he does.”
Goaltender Peter Budaj notched his first win for the Bolts, stopping 26 of 28 shots. Rookie Gabriel Dumont also scored a goal, his second of the year.
“Just exceptional effort on a night where I actually thought both teams were off,” Cooper said. “And so that game was up for the taking. You’ve got to tip your hat to (Budaj) for making a big save on (Chris) Kreider in the opening minute. If he doesn’t stop that, who knows where our momentum goes. We weather the storm in the first, pretty fortunate to come out 1-1. The power play’s kind of chipping away for us, and then after that, it was anybody’s game. Our goalie just happened to make one more save than there’s and then the little engine that could, Point. He came through big for us.”
The Lightning has now pointed in 14 of its last 16 games (11-2-3). Tampa Bay plays at Ottawa tonight.