TAMPA – The Lightning have been known to strike fast and Thursday night’s first period against Dallas was a prime example of how the goals can pile up in a hurry.
Tampa Bay scored three goals on as many shots in a span of 2:01 during a four-goal period to ignite a 6-0 win over the Stars at Amalie Arena.
Nikita Kucherov had a goal and three assists to up his league-leading point total to 92. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves to record his fifth shutout on the season and 17th of his career to match Ben Bishop for the all-time franchise lead.
It was the Lightning’s fourth straight game of scoring five-plus goals giving them 22 in that stretch. The victory also extended their points streak to eight games, 6-0-2.
“We’re in the locker room and we didn’t think it was a 4-0 game,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper on how his team felt after 20 minutes. “The puck was going in the net for us and we capitalized on our opportunities. When that happens, you are really putting a team on its heels. It was, ‘How are we going to handle this?’ We got a couple more (goals) in the second (period) and then in third (period) we’re playing for our goalie.”
Steve Stamkos started the scoring parade at 7:19 on the powerplay when he took a feed from Ondrej Palat and buried a shot from low in the left circle that Stars’ goalie Anton Khudobin had absolutely no chance.
At 12:39 Mikhail Sergachev got the three-goal flurry started when his shot from above the right circle beat Khudobin high to the far side. Fourteen seconds later Stamkos carried the puck into the Dallas zone and led Tyler Johnson, who with one hand on his stick poked the puck past Khudobin to make it 3-0.
Johnson’s goal, his 20th on the season and second in the last 18 games, chased Khudonin. Landon Bow came on to make his second NHL appearance and was welcomed to Amalie Arena one minute and 47 seconds later when Kucherov wristed a laser high over the glove side for his 26th goal of the season. That made it 4-0 and gave Kucherov a three-point period en route to his second straight four-point game. He has 11 points in the last three games.
“We just came out hard, wanted to play our way and stick to our structure,” said Kucherov. “Good things happen when you play the right way.”
With Khudobin back between the pipes Dallas, the Lightning added a pair of goals in the second period, including Alex Killorn’s 12th. Killorn had one goal in his previous 19 games.
Stamkos, who has 14 goals and 22 points in 13 career games against the Stars, added another powerplay marker at 16:28 to make it 6-0.
“We capitalized on a team that maybe just came out a little flat,” said Stamkos, who has 32 goals on the season. “It was another big win for us all over the (score) sheet with the powerplay, the penalty kill and the goaltending. It was a good solid win.”
The only suspense in the final 20 minutes was whether Vasilevskiy would pick up the shutout. The Stars had only seven shots on goal in the third period, but two were high-percentage opportunities.
Two minutes into the period Vasilevskiy made a right skate save on Tyler Seguin’s wraparound attempt and with six minutes remaining he got his right pad on Alexander Radulov’s shot from the low slot.
“It was huge,” said Kucherov of Vasilevskiy getting the shutout. “He’s been unbelievable for us the whole season. After the first period we were up 4-0 and we just wanted make sure that we played smart and didn’t give up chances.”
The Lightning look to extend their points streak to nine games when Montreal comes to town Saturday night.