Boeser nets hat trick to tie for NHL goals lead and Canucks beat Lightning 4-1

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Boeser Hat Trick Leads Vancouver Past Lightning
(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Boeser Hat Trick Leads Vancouver Past Lightning
(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Brock Boeser scored a hat trick, Quinn Hughes had three assists and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Andrei Kuzmenko also scored for Vancouver, winners of three straight and four of their last five, while J.T. Miller chipped in with two assists.

Brayden Point had the Lightning’s goal.

Boeser scored his 19th goal of the season at 9:28 of the second period after Miller’s initial shot was blocked by Andrei Vasilevskiy, allowing the winger to bat the puck in mid-air.

He added a second goal eight minutes later, firing his shot past Vasilevskiy on the blocker side after Hughes cycled around the net and found the winger open at the point.

“I was just kind of skating the ice and saw most guys watching (Hughes),” Boeser said. “You kind of naturally just start looking at him and don’t scan the ice for guys. I thought the high ice was open for a one-timer and it worked out well.”

Canucks coach Rick Tocchet praised the growth the forward has shown after struggling last season.

“He’s just a smart guy, he knows the spots to go, and he’s sharpened up his defensive game,” Tocchet said. “He knows he still wants to get better at his defensive game but it’s night and day from last year, his positional hockey. He’s a smart kid.”

Boeser’s final goal was an empty-netter with just over a minute to play in the third. With his second hat trick of the season, Boeser is tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the NHL lead with 21 goals.

He actually missed his first shot at the open net before getting a second chance moments later.

“It was a bad shot on the first one,” he said. “Obviously we lost to them earlier in the season and we need to start stringing some wins together before Christmas. It’s a good effort by the group.”

The Lightning opened the scoring less than two minutes into the game. Brandon Hagel found Mikhail Sergachev with a cross-ice pass and he found an open Point at the side of the net.

“We had some looks and we had enough scoring chances to get more than one goal but we didn’t,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s tough in this league at times.”

Kuzmenko scored the equalizer for the Canucks on their first power play of the game. He fired a one-timer past Vasilevskiy at 6:08 of the first period.

Vasilevskiy made 18 saves and Vancouver netminder Thatcher Demko had 28 stops.

“I think for us as a group, this year we’re worried about us instead of in the past we were worried about our opponent,” Demko said. “The confidence level is such that if we play our game, we know we’re going to compete with every team in the league right now.”

UP NEXT

Lightning: At Edmonton Oilers on Thursday in the fourth game of a five-game trip.

Canucks: Host Florida Panthers on Thursday in the finale of a five-game homestand.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl