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Lightning’s victory over Detroit led by guys who don’t often score

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No one will ever call them the new Triplets.

J.T. Brown? Really? He hadn’t scored a goal in 46 games.

Andrej Sustr? Honestly? He had scored only one in 45 games.

Yanni Gourde? Seriously? He had scored three goals … in his life.

Thursday night, however, they all found the net in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 5-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It was a timely effort, because the Bolts had to play without Nikita Kucherov, who has been their most valuable player all season. Kucherov became ill just before the game.

The Lightning is just outside of the playoff chase, trailing the Boston Bruins by three points for the final wild-card berth and Toronto by four for third place in the Atlantic Division.

When Sustr scored, the loudspeaker played his chosen song. It was Britney Spears “Oops!…I Did It Again.”  It has been a long time since the song was hit; it has been a long time since Sustr scored.

“I didn’t know if we’d get to hear it,” said teammate Alex Killorn.

The Bolts also got goals from Killorn (his second in 22 games) and Jonathan Drouin (his first since, well, last game).

“Eventually, you need secondary scoring,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “Someone’s going to lead your team in scoring. Some one is going to be second, then third. But when you’re missing those guys, the goals have to come from somewhere. We got one from Brownie and one from Schu. Killer hadn’t been on for a while.”

Andrei Vasilevskiy won his 20th game of the year for the Bolts, stopping 31 of 34 shots.

Cooper was hopeful that Kucherov could play Saturday night when the Bolts host Montreal.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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