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game recap

Kucherov gets 500th point, helps Lightning defeat Panthers

Has goal, two assists; Florida winning streak ends at three

by Corey Long / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Kucherov wires home PPG

FLA@TBL: Kucherov fires wrister for power-play goal

Nikita Kucherov spots a loose puck at the circle and slings it past Sergei Bobrovsky for a power-play goal, increasing the lead to 5-1

  • 00:48 •

TAMPA -- Nikita Kucherov had three points, including his 500th in the NHL, and the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Florida Panthers 6-1 at Amalie Arena on Monday.

Kucherov had a goal and two assists, including one on Brayden Point's goal in the first period for the milestone. It was also his 300th NHL assist.

Point had a goal and three assists, and Victor Hedman had two goals and an assist for the Lightning (18-13-4) heading into the Christmas break. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves.

 

[WATCH: All Panthers vs. Lightning highlights]

 

"These are the teams we're chasing," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, whose team's next six games are against Atlantic Division opponents. "We're running through the division now. … We've got to start gaining points, and this was a good first step."

Video: FLA@TBL: Kucherov earns 500th point on Point's goal

Jonathan Huberdeau scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves for the Panthers (18-13-5), who had won three straight.

"Obviously we came out flat, we got outworked and outplayed in all areas," Bobrovsky said. "We can't do that, especially to a division opponent."

Point gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead 41 seconds into the first period by tipping a shot by Erik Cernak.

"We had a tough night in Washington, so to see pucks go in, it was a good feeling and we stuck with it," Point said, referring to the Lightning's 3-1 loss at the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

Hedman made it 2-0 at 15:06, and Mikhail Sergachev extended the lead to 3-0 with a power-play goal at 18:03.

"They got the early lead on the first shift and kind of kept pushing the whole period and got three goals," Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. "Against this team, it's tough to come back from any lead. I mean, they are a good team, but we needed to play a lot better."

Video: FLA@TBL: Hedman hammers slapper off the post and in

Huberdeau cut it to 3-1 on the power play at 2:47 of the second period.

"At 3-1 we had a little chance, but we took some penalties … and it just didn't go our way tonight," Huberdeau said. "We have to forget about this one."

Alex Killorn made it 4-1 with a power-play goal at 5:53, scoring on the rebound of a shot by Steven Stamkos. Six of Killorn's goals this season have come on the power play.

"The big thing for [Killorn] is when he's skating and using his body he can be very effective," Cooper said. "[He] has been really determined this year. He's going and getting pucks. He's been dynamite around the net, and he's been great on the power play. He's been fun to watch."

Kucherov scored on the power play to make it 5-1 at 9:52. 

Hedman scored his second goal at 18:05 of the third period for the 6-1 final.

"We love these kinds of games, they are important games for the team, and we like to be in these situations," Hedman said. "We have to rise to the occasion. We did that today, and we have to do that in the upcoming games as well."

Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad left the game midway through the second after taking a shot on the shoulder, and Florida defenseman Anton Stralman left at 5:18 of the third with a facial laceration after a shot hit him in the top of his helmet. He received stitches for the cut.

"We'll see how [Ekblad] is," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "Going into the Christmas break and coming out of it with three days [of rest] is going to be good for him and good for us. But coming back with the back-to-back games (Saturday and Sunday), we're probably not sure about those games right now."

Video: FLA@TBL: Sergachev nets PPG to add to lead

 

They said it

"We got [outplayed in] everything tonight. Whether it was compete, whether it was possession, whether it was special teams, whether it was … completed passes. They had it in every category. It was a disappointing way going into the break coming off of three good games, and all of a sudden you come up with today's game. But to give them credit, they responded to the urgency that was appropriate." -- Panthers coach Joel Quenneville

"We have three days here to refocus, recharge our batteries and make sure we are ready to make a push." -- Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman

Video: FLA@TBL: Hedman powers home second goal of the night

 

Need to know

The three power-play goals allowed were a season high for the Panthers. … Vasilevskiy made his 224th start, passing Ben Bishop for the most in Lightning history. … Huberdeau has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) during a four-game point streak. … Point has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past six games. … Tampa Bay has won eight consecutive games against Florida at Amalie Arena since last losing March 26, 2016.

 

What's next

Panthers: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-D+, NHL.TV)

Lightning: Host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; SN360, CITY, SNE, TVAS, SUN, NHL.TV)

Video: Hedman scores twice as Kucherov reaches milestone

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