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Stamkos boosts Lightning past Penguins

Matches NHL career high with four points; Kucherov scores two goals

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- Steven Stamkos had four points to match his NHL career high, and Nikita Kucherov scored two goals for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 7-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

Stamkos, Yanni Gourde, Brayden Point, Anton Stralman and Mikhail Sergachev scored for Tampa Bay (7-1-1), and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves.

The Lightning have 15 points, tying the best start in their history. They had 15 through nine games in 2003-04 (seven wins, one tie), when they won the Stanley Cup.

 

[WATCH: All Penguins vs. Lightning highlights]

 

Stamkos passed Vincent Lecavalier for most power-play goals in Tampa Bay history (113) when he scored off a nifty pass from Vladislav Namestnikov at 14:16 of the first period to make it 2-0.

"I think there's something to be said when your first shift of the game is a power play," said Stamkos, who got the first of his three assists when he set up Kucherov's first goal 1:36 into the game. "You get some touches early, a shot early and get some confidence. Obviously, we score and you start feeling better about yourself."

Video: PIT@TBL: Kucherov sweeps in PPG to open scoring

The Penguins (5-3-1) are 0-3-0 in the second of back-to-back games this season; they won 4-3 at the Florida Panthers on Friday. Jake Guentzel scored for Pittsburgh, and Antti Niemi allowed seven goals on 32 shots.

Kucherov opened the scoring with Penguins center Sidney Crosby in the penalty box after being called for slashing Gourde 57 seconds into the game. After the goal, Crosby was given a 10-minute misconduct for arguing with officials.

Gourde scored with 0.2 seconds remaining in the period to give the Lightning a 3-0 lead.

"It was a tough time to give up a goal in the last second again," said Niemi, who allowed five goals on 34 shots in a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Oct. 12, including one by Victor Hedman with 0.1 seconds left in the first period. "I still felt OK. I think I made a few good saves, but it wasn't close to enough."

Point made it 4-0 30 seconds into the second period when he scored on the rebound of his initial shot. Stralman gave the Lightning a 5-0 lead at 5:58 of the second.

Video: PIT@TBL: Point extends lead with terrific goal

Kucherov scored his second of the night at 7:12 of the second, beating Niemi for a 6-0 Tampa Bay lead. It was his 10th goal of the season, tying Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals for the NHL lead.

Sergachev made it 7-0 with a power-play goal at 10:32 of the third period. It was his third goal in two games.

"Right from the start we played the way we want to, especially against a Pittsburgh team that has so much offense," Tampa Bay forward Ryan Callahan said. "Coming into the game we wanted to concentrate on our [defense] and I think we did that and generated opportunities off that."

Guentzel scored on the power play to spoil Vasilevskiy's shutout with 1:42 remaining, making it 7-1.

"We've got to do a better job on these back-to-back games," Crosby said. "I think we've put ourselves in some bad spots in these back-to-backs by being down early and by a lot. It's hard enough in a regular game to get yourself back into it when you're playing good teams."

Video: PIT@TBL: Kucherov wires wrister for his second goal

 

Goal of the game

Namestnikov took a pass from Kucherov along the goal line to the right of the net, drew Penguins defensemen Olli Maatta and Chad Ruhwedel to him by backing out toward the front of the net, and sent a no-look, backhand feed to Stamkos, who beat Niemi high on the stick side from the bottom of the left face-off circle.

Video: PIT@TBL: Stamkos buries PPG, sets team record

 

Save of the game

Vasilevskiy reached back to stop Carl Hagelin's shot with his arm just before it crossed the goal line with 24 seconds remaining in the first period following a cross-crease pass by Guentzel.

Video: PIT@TBL: Vasilevskiy extends arm to deny Hagelin

 

Highlight of the game

Gourde scored his buzzer-beating goal from just outside the crease off the rebound of a Braydon Coburn shot. "For me, the key to the game was the Vasilevskiy save (on Hagelin) and then we go down and score," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "So it's either 2-1 or 3-0 going into the room."

Video: PIT@TBL: Gourde puts in rebound before time expires

 

They said it

"Right now we're a flawed hockey team. We've got to shore up a lot of areas. I don't think it has anything to do with back-to-backs. I think it has to do with a mindset and willingness to play the game the right way." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

 

"This was a big game for us. I thought we were a confident group coming off a [2-0 win at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday]. I think we took advantage of the circumstances of them coming off a back-to-back and getting a couple of early goals helped. I'm just proud of the way we played throughout the whole game." -- Lightning captain Steven Stamkos

 

Need to know

Stamkos and Kucherov are the first NHL teammates to each have a nine-game point streak to start a season since Doug Weight and Pavol Demitra did it for the St. Louis Blues in 2001-02. … Penguins forward Carter Rowney left the game after he was hit in the hand with a shot early in the first period. Sullivan said he will be evaluated in Pittsburgh.

 

What's next

Penguins: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, TVA Sports, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)

Lightning: At the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, SUN, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Kucherov, Stamkos power seven-goal night for Bolts

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