SAN JOSE,Calif. (AP) — Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat each scored a goal, Curtis McElhinney recorded his first shutout of the season and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the San Jose Sharks 3-0 on Saturday night.
McElhinney had 30 saves as the Lightning won their third straight and 15th in 18 games. They improved to 8-0 against the Pacific Division.
Kucherov and Stamkos, who also had an assist, each extended their point streaks to seven games.
Kucherov has seven goals and five assists over that stretch, and Stamkos six goals and six assists. Kucherov had multiple points in his five previous games.
“We knew they were a hot team,” Sharks forward Timo Meier said. “They have a lot of skill. They’re a good team, there’s no doubt. I thought we were definitely right there, just not enough little details to win this game. But I thought for a little while we were right there.”
Aaron Dell turned back 26 shots for San Jose, which lost for the fifth time in six games after going 5-2-1 over its previous eight.
McElhinney recorded his first shutout in 21 games going back to Feb. 23 of last year in a 3-0 win over Dallas.
The Lightning scored the game’s first goal at 4:04 of the second when Stamkos scored his 23rd goal on a one-timer from the right face-off circle off a perfect pass from the opposite face-off circle from Kevin Shattenkirk.
Kucherov scored his 24th on a backhander from the slot with just over 2 minutes left.
“It’s much harder than he makes it look,” Stamkos said of Kucherov’s goal. “That’s just part of the skill set that Kuch has. Not too many players can make that play on their backhand like that. There’s probably one or two, so glad he’s one of them. He’s had two big goals for us the last couple of games. Just tremendous plays by obviously a very elite player.”
Palat scored his 14th on an empty-netter in the closing seconds.
“It was tough to leave the (first) period without a goal after some of the chances we had, that’s why it was pivotal that we had to get the lead in the second because we were throwing everything at them,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Give them a ton of credit though. They had us on their heels on a couple of occasions in the second period, but Mac was fantastic tonight.”
Lightning: Backup G McElhinney started in place of Andrei Vasilevskiy, who played in Friday night’s 4-3 win at Anaheim. … Sharks C Joel Kellman was taken to the dressing room midway through the first after a hard check into the boards by Kevin Shattenkirk. He came back to start the second period but was taken out before the start of the third for evaluations and did not return. … The Sharks managed just two shots on goal in the first period. … San Jose recalled F Maxim Letunov from its AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda. The 23-year-old did not play on Saturday and hasn’t yet appeared in an NHL game.
Lightning: Hosts Vegas on Tuesday.
Sharks: At Calgary on Tuesday.