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Nikita Kucherov leads Lightning to 3-2 win in preseason finale

Alex Killorn scores both goals in regulation for Tampa Bay on power play

by Bryan Burns /

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov is picking up right where he left off following a career season in 2016-17.

Kucherov was picked for his first NHL All-Star Game and set personal bests for goals (40, tied for second-most in league), assists (45) and points (85, tied for fifth-most in league) last season.

In the 2017-18 preseason, Kucherov again was a point machine, finishing with three goals and a team-high eight points in four games, an average of two points a game.

On Saturday, Kucherov tallied the overtime game-winner and contributed three points overall in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

The Lightning conclude the preseason with a 3-4-0 record, the win over Nashville (2-2-2) snapping a three-game losing skid.

Alex Killorn netted two power-play goals to give the Bolts a 1-0 lead at 5:49 of the opening period and a 2-1 advantage at 13:51 of the second. Killorn scored for the second-straight game and finishes the preseason with three goals, all on the power play, tying Kucherov for most goals on the team.

Killorn's opening goal came courtesy of some nifty puck movement on the power play before Stamkos lasered a pass to the high slot for Killorn, whose shot trickled five hole through Pekka Rinne (32 saves). Stamkos and Kucherov earned the assists.

Miikka Salomaki leveled the score on a penalty shot at 10:46 of the first period. Victor Hedman took down Salomaki on a potential breakaway at center ice, and Salomaki converted for his first goal of the preseason.

Killorn's second power-play goal was nearly identical to his first, the forward setting up shop between the circles, receiving the puck and shooting past Rinne, Kucherov and Hedman assisting.

The Lightning were nearly able to make their 2-1 lead hold up, but Colton Sissons beat Andrei Vasilevskiy with 3:53 to go before the end of regulation. 

In overtime, Kucherov quickly took over, forcing a turnover and redirecting Anton Stralman's feed into the back of the net 1:02 into the extra frame. Stralman picked up his first point of the preseason with the primary assist. Stamkos also grabbed an assist for his second of the night. Stamkos finished the preseason with five assists in four games.

Vasilevskiy looked in mid-season form in his final tune up before the season opener, stopping 26-of-28 shots and earning his second win of the preseason.

The Lightning outshot Nashville35-28 and swept both games from the Predators in the preseason.

The Bolts were 2-for-8 on the power play in Nashville. They finished with five power-play goals in their seven preseason games.

Tampa Bay opens the regular season Friday, October 6 at AMALIE Arena versus the Florida Panthers.

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