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game recap

Lightning ease past Wild despite injuries

Nikita Kucherov has three points for Tampa Bay, which lost three players during game

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- Nikita Kucherov had two goals and an assist to help the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-1 win against the Minnesota Wild at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

Victor Hedman and Andrej Sustr also scored for the Lightning (31-26-9), who lost forwards Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette, each to a lower-body injury.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves to improve to 4-0-1 in his past five starts.


WATCH: All Wild vs. Lightning highlights 


Marco Scandella scored, and Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves for the Wild (42-17-6). Minnesota lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Nov. 1 and 5.

"Obviously I didn't think we played very good the first two periods," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "But lately we've been playing from behind and it's just difficult when you're coming from behind against a team that really wants and needs the two points."

Kucherov made it 1-0 with a power-play goal at 6:53 of the first period when he beat Dubnyk with a wrist shot from the left circle to the short side.

Hedman gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead at 11:01. Jonathan Drouin found Hedman open with a cross-ice pass and he beat Dubnyk on the short side with a wrist shot.

"Obviously seeing guys go down puts a lot of pressure on the other guys," Hedman said. "But we had to play with 8 or 9 guys against one of the top teams in the League. We needed to come through as a team and we did."

Video: MIN@TBL: Kucherov hits empty net to reach 30 goals

Sustr scored his 2nd goal of the season at 4:37 of the second period to make it 3-0. Kucherov left a drop pass for Sustr, who sent a wrist shot that got past Dubnyk through the five-hole.

"We battled it out," Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. "We were down to three lines at the end but we stuck to it and played some good hockey."

Scandella scored at 16:02 of the third period to make it 3-1. Jonas Brodin put a shot on goal and Scandella jammed the puck into the net on the follow up.

"I don't think for the first two periods our puck movement was good enough to get through the neutral zone and make plays," Wild forward Zach Parise said. "When you're fighting for possession you're not going to score a lot of goals."

Kucherov scored his 30th goal of the season into an empty net with 1:09 remaining.

Namestnikov was injured at 3:18 of the second period when his skate got caught under Parise and he needed to be helped off the ice.

Johnson was injured at 8:04 of the second when he was checked by Nino Niederreiter and the two players appeared to bang knees on the boards. Johnson also needed to be helped off the ice.

Paquette went down midway through the third period when he got tangled with Niederreiter and was injured when both players went down to the ice.

"Once [Paquette] goes down we were really in scramble mode," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Give them credit, they were pushing and we bent a little bit but [Vasilevskiy] was there when we needed him."


Goal of the game

Hedman's goal proved to be the game-winner and was set up perfectly by Drouin's accurate pass that gave the defenseman a clean look at his target.

Video: MIN@TBL: Hedman finishes Drouin's cross-ice feed


Save of the game

Vasilevskiy turned away Erik Haula on a point-blank opportunity at the hash mark at 6:19 of the third period.

"I think he might have been a little unlucky for a stretch but he's definitely stepping up right now," Stralman said.


Unsung performance of the game

Lightning defenseman Luke Witkowski took shifts at forward for the second consecutive game and had four hits in 9:11 of ice time.


Highlight of the game

Kucherov's power-play goal came six seconds into the man-advantage when he put a shot over Dubnyk's shoulder from the left faceoff circle.

Video: MIN@TBL: Kucherov gives Lightning early lead with PPG


They said it

"We didn't get shots through. They had three chances in the first period and scored on two of them. But I didn't think we played well enough to win. In the last 10 minutes of the third maybe we got a little hungry but anytime that happens the other team is letting up. If they were up by one they probably would have played a little harder." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau


"It takes character to win them [games], but you're going to put this one up there. Especially the last 12 minutes or so. We were playing with limited players but they were responsible. It was gritty, it was gutty; they played to win a hockey game." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper


Need to know

Hedman tied his NHL season high in goals with 13. … Wild captain Mikko Koivu had an assist and has 10 points in his past 10 games.


What's next

Wild: At the Florida Panthers on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-N+, NHL.TV)

Lightning: Host the Florida Panthers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-F, NHL.TV)


Video: Kucherov, Hedman lift Lightning past Wild, 4-1

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