NHL points leader Kucherov has 3 points as Lightning beat Avalanche 6-3

Vasy Secures Puck In Bolts 6-3 Win Over AVS
(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — NHL points leader Nikita Kucherov had two goals and an assist as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-3 on Thursday night.

Kucherov, who now has a nine-game point streak, picked up his 93rd point on a goal that made it 4-3 at 8:13 of the third. Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, second in points, increased his total to 89 with two assists.

Thursday was the first day in NHL history to feature five Stanley Cup Final rematches, with this one involving the two Art Ross Trophy race leaders going head to head. Colorado beat Tampa Bay in the 2022 Final.

“It was fun to see those two guys out there going against each other,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “Fortunately it went our way.”

MacKinnon has 20 assists and 32 points in 24 games, including playoffs, against Kucherov, who has eight goals and 19 points. Tampa Bay is 14-10-0 in the matchups.

MacKinnon missed about 10 minutes in the second period after teammate Jonathan Drouin’s pass was deflected by Tampa Bay’s Nicholas Paul and hit him in the nose. The center left last Saturday’s game at Florida after hitting his chin on the ice.

Colorado went ahead 3-2 when Artturi Lehkonen deflected MacKinnon’s shot 3:40 into the third with Kucherov off for interference. Steven Stamkos pulled the Lightning even on a breakaway goal 20 seconds later off a pass by Kucherov.

“It’s disappointing because I can’t help but feel we’ve got more to give than that,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “Whether we’re a little on the delusional side or frustrated, we have better than we were tonight.”

Stamkos tied Keith Tkachuk for 34th place all-time with 538 goals. The Lightning captain also had an assist to set a team record with his 12th 50-point sesason.

Tampa Bay also got a goal from Brayden Point, while Anthony Cirelli and Nick Perbix had empty-net goals. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves.

Defenseman Bowen Byram scored twice for the Avalanche, who completed a six-game road trip at 1-4-1. Backup goalie Justus Annunen stopped 33 shots in his third game this season.

“Not the road trip you want to start off the (All-Star) break,” Colorado defenseman Cale Makar said. “We got learn from it and move on.”

Byram’s second goal tied it at 2 late in the second.

After Byram opened the scoring, Point and Kucherov scored 1:07 apart late in the first to put the Lightning up 2-1.

“He lets his game do the talking,” Stamkos said. “We see the work that goes on behind the scenes. It’s relentless.”

Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman was plus-five. Kucherov finished plus-four.


Avalanche: Play Sunday at home against Arizona night.

Lightning: Host Florida on Saturday night.


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