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Vasilevskiy makes 28 saves, Lightning hold off Blues

Kill St. Louis power play at end; Johnson, Kucherov each scores for Tampa Bay

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- Nikita Kucherov became the first Tampa Bay Lightning player to score in the first five games of a season in a 2-1 win against the St. Louis Blues at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

Tyler Johnson scored for the Lightning (4-1-0), who won all three games on their homestand, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves.

 

[Watch: All Blues vs. Lightning highlights]

 

Tampa Bay killed a St. Louis power play after Kucherov was called for high sticking Brayden Schenn with 49.6 seconds remaining.

"I think if you ask anyone in this room, [Vasilevskiy] has been our best player," Johnson said. "He's stood on his head on a couple of occasions for us. We want to be better in front of him, you can't expect him to make those saves every single night, but I thought tonight was a lot better effort."

Video: STL@TBL: Johnson wires a quick PPG past Allen

Vladimir Tarasenko scored for the Blues (4-2-0), who have lost two straight after opening the season with four consecutive wins. Jake Allen made 25 saves.

Kucherov scored to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead at 6:27 of the third period. Steven Stamkos chipped the puck from the red line to Kucherov skating into the zone, and he beat Allen with a backhand shot for his fifth goal.

"I didn't really see much else that I could do there," Kucherov said.

Kucherov is the first NHL player to score in five consecutive games to open a season since Patrick Marleau for the San Jose Sharks in 2012-13.

Tarasenko made it 2-1 at 16:27 with a shot that went between Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi's legs and froze Vasilevskiy. It was his fourth goal.

The Blues pulled Allen to make it a 6-on-4 advantage after Kucherov went to the penalty box at 19:10, but Vasilevskiy made a save on a wrist shot from Colton Parayko with 17 seconds remaining to preserve the victory.

"I liked that the guys kind of refocused going into the third period," St. Louis coach Mike Yeo said. "They didn't quit all night. They battled really hard. We know that's not enough. We made it way too easy on their goalie tonight."

Video: STL@TBL: Allen denies Stralman and Namestnikov

Johnson scored on the power play at 8:20 of the second period to put Tampa Bay ahead 1-0. He held the puck at the left face-off circle and shot between Allen's pads.

"Terrible goal," Allen said. "I thought we did a pretty decent job tonight but just couldn't get one right at the end."

 

Goal of the game

Tarasenko shot the puck so quick through a screen from the top of the right circle that Vasilevskiy did not have time to react. "[Tarasenko's] goal, their goalie doesn't see it because we had a good net drive," Yeo said. "We need to be more direct to the net. No doubt about that."

Video: STL@TBL: Tarasenko buries a wrister through bodies

 

Save of the game

Vasilevskiy denied Blues forward Paul Stastny his 600th NHL point with a sprawling save on a deflection in front of the net at 13:21 of the first period.

Video: STL@TBL: Vasilevskiy sprawls to shut down Stastny

 

Highlight of the game

Stamkos made a one-handed, one-touch pass ahead to Kucherov, who got behind Parayko and backhanded a shot under Allen's blocker.

Video: STL@TBL: Kucherov beats Allen with quick backhander

 

They said it

"It's hard to score in this league when good goalies are seeing pucks. You've got to take away their eyes and get more traffic. That's what creates more rebounds and second chances. We need more of that mentality." -- Blues coach Mike Yeo

"[Nikita] Kucherov has so much deception to his game and anybody will tell you the backhand is the hardest shot for a goalie to read off coming off the stick. But when you deceptively throw the backhand it makes it even harder. That's what he did. That's why he's a special player." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper

 

Need to know

The Lightning had a pregame ceremony to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their inaugural season. Terry Crisp, who was coach of the 1992-93 team, dropped the puck for the ceremonial face-off. "I remember the phrase 'NHL Hockey in Tampa? Will never happen,'" Crisp said. "Phil Esposito and his crew had a vision. They took that vision and put their money where their mouth was and they made it happen, and then the fans took over from there. The first year, the 10,300 fans we had at the Expo Hall in the Florida State Fairgrounds, they were the cornerstone. A Stanley Cup lives here now, rightfully so, and the Lightning is recognized as one of the top franchises in the NHL." Most of the players from the original Lightning attended, and Esposito drove the Zamboni during the first intermission. … Tarasenko has nine points (seven goals, two assists) in nine games against Tampa Bay. … Blues forward Sammy Blais had two shots on goal and two blocked shots in 17:18 in his NHL debut.

 

What's next

Blues: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV)

Lightning: At the Detroit Red Wings on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; SN1, TVA Sports, FS-D, SUN, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Kucherov, Vasilevskiy pace Lightning to 2-1 win

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