Brayden Point scores twice, Nikita Kucherov has 4 assists in Lightning’s 4-1 win over Sharks

Brayden Point Leads Bolts Past Sharks
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point, left, scores a goal against San Jose Sharks goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 21, 2024, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Brayden Point scored two goals, Nikita Kucherov had four assists and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the San Jose Sharks 4-1 on Thursday night for their fifth straight win.

The Lightning, currently on a five-game road trip, extended their lead for the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference to four points over the Red Wings.

Point broke a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal 34 seconds into the third period, scoring on the rebound from point-blank off a shot by Kucherov. It was Point’s 14th goal in his last 15 games. Kucherov – who leads the NHL with 122 points – extended his assist streak to 12 games, the longest in franchise history.

Tampa Bay picked up the energy in the third period with three unanswered goals, responding after “falling into that trap” in the first two periods, as captain Steven Stamkos said. In the locker room prior to the third period, Stamkos said the message was: “Listen, these points are too valuable for our group at this time of the year, no matter who we’re playing.”

“And I thought we responded really well in the third,” Stamkos said. “Obviously, big two points for us.”

Anthony Duclair, who was traded to the Lightning from the Sharks at the deadline, extended the lead to 3-1 at 6:50 of the third period. Point then added his 40th goal of the season on a spectacular pass from Kucherov, who delivered a no-look feed from behind the goal line while on his knees battling for a loose puck.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said that Point has been “a heck of a player for us for a long time.”

“That’s a special mark,” Cooper said on Point reaching 40 goals. “Not a lot of guys get to that every year.”

Nicholas Paul also scored for Tampa Bay, and William Ecklund had San Jose’s goal.

Andrei Vasilevskiy had 21 saves for the Lightning. Sharks goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, returning from a three-week absence due to a groin injury, made 17 saves. He did take a puck to the mask that knocked it off, and was being evaluated after the game with what Sharks coach David Quinn described as an upper-body injury.

The Sharks lost their sixth straight and have just one win in their last 16 games, returning home after a winless five-game road trip. Tampa Bay improved to 9-1-1 in the last 10 meetings with San Jose.

The Lightning scored five minutes into the game, taking advantage of an odd bounce when a pass by Victor Hedman off the back boards caromed straight to Paul in front.

Eklund tied the game minutes later, finishing a two-on-one break after a turnover at center ice.

“I really liked our first two periods,” Quinn said. “I thought we managed the puck really well, defended hard. We played a really good game. And then they get the power-play goal to start the third and then we get demoralized and we get a little sloppy.”

Duclair returned to San Jose days after being dealt from his former club, scoring his fourth goal in five games with the Lightning for his fourth 20th-goal season of his career.

“I had a great time here,” Duclair said. “The guys were great and it was nice to see some familiar faces. Playing any old team is pretty special and a little more motivation for sure.”


Lightning: Visit Los Angeles on Saturday night.

Sharks: Host Chicago on Saturday night.