Late Goal By Kucherov Sets Up Lightning’s Shootout Win Over Los Angeles

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos scores against Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick during a shootout Jan. 14, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning won the game 4-3. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

TAMPA — The Lightning did not want to embark on a six-game road trip on a two-game skid.

Thanks to Nikita Kucherov’s blast with 1:15 remaining in the third period and Steven Stamkos’ shootout goal, they will not do so. 

Indeed, a 4-3 win over Los Angeles on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena put Tampa Bay, which had won 10 straight prior to Sunday’s 3-1 loss in New Jersey, back in the win column.

“When you are staring zero points in the face and you end up coming up with two, you have to take that and run,” said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper. “I thought we deserved points in this game. Your odds are not as high when you are down by one with a minute left in the game, but a big play by the boys and we got two out of it.”

Kucherov’s equalizer came off Anthony Cirelli’s left circle win against Jeff Carter. His rifle beat Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick over the right shoulder.

“I am just trying to get it back to Kooch or (Victor Hedman), trying to win the faceoff,” said Cirelli. “I was kind of lucky that I put it on Kooch’s stick.”

After Brayden Point and Nikolai Prokhorkin cancelled each other out with goals in the second round of the shootout, Stamkos put a shot off the left post and behind Quick to open the fourth round.

Andrei Vasilevskiy then made a left pad save on Dustin Brown against the right post to seal up the two points. Vasilevskiy, who is on his way to the all-star game in place of Boston’s Jaroslav Halak, made 38 saves on a pretty busy night.

“He’s the best goalie in the league and it is surprising he didn’t get picked in the first place,” said Kucherov. “I am really happy for him.”

Vasilevskiy was busy early as the Kings had seven of the game’s first eight shots and scored twice within a 2:34 span to take a 2-0 lead with 13:08 left in the opening period.

The Lightning, who have won seven in a row against the Kings, struck back with a quick pair of their own. Alex Killorn, who has 10 goals in his last 14 games, and Steven Stamkos scored 1:19 apart to tie the game. The latter’s goal coming at 11:25.

Killorn’s wrister from the left circle beat Quick to far side for his career-high tying 19th goal. Stamkos, streaking down the middle of the ice, put home a rebound of a Cirelli shot on the doorstep, which was the result of a nice Tyler Johnson pass.

“Obviously, it wasn’t the start we wanted, down two,” said Cirelli. “We regrouped after that. We started playing our game, using our speed. We battled back.”

The Kings took a 3-2 lead with eight minutes remaining in the third period on a power play goal by Brown. That snapped a streak of 20 straight kills for the Lightning.

A streak that remains intact is consecutive games at home with at least a point for Tampa Bay. The streak reached eight, during which they are 7-0-1.

The six-game trip, all outside the Eastern time zone and which is broken up by the all-star break, starts at Minnesota on Thursday night. The Lightning will not play again at Amalie Arena until February 4 versus Vegas.

Tom Layberger is also a contributing writer for forbes.com. Follow him on Twitter.


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Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.