Stamkos, Kucherov lead Lightning past Penguins, 7-1
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are making it look easy and the Tampa Bay Lightning are reaping the benefits.
The Tampa Bay stars both extended their season-opening points streaks to nine games and the Lightning routed the two-time Stanley Cup Pittsburgh Penguins 7-1 on Saturday night.
“Just proud of the way we played throughout the whole game,” Stamkos said. “Sometimes those are tough games to play but we played the right way.”
Stamkos had a goal and three assists, and Kucherov had two goals and an assist. They are the first teammates to start the season with nine-game streaks since St. Louis’ Pavol Demitra and Doug Weight in 2001-02.
The duo have combined for 34 points.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, coming off a 43-save blanking of Columbus on Thursday night, lost his bid for second straight shutout bid on Jake Guentzel’s goal with 1:42 to play. Vasilevskiy finished with 28 saves.
Yanni Gourde, Brayden Point, Anton Stralman and Mikhail Sergachev also scored to help the Lightning improve to 7-1-1.
Penguins star Sidney Crosby received both minor and misconduct penalties during the opening 1:36 of the game. Backup goalie Antti Niemi, 0-3 in three starts, stopped 25 shots.
“Obviously, I don’t want to take a penalty on the first shift out there,” Crosby said. “They score on the power play. It’s not the why you want to start. That’s on me.”
Pittsburgh is 5-2 over its last seven games, with both losses against Tampa Bay.
With Crosby off for cross-checking, Kucherov scored at 1:36 of the first. Kucherov got his 10th goal in Tampa Bay’s three-goal second.
After leaving the penalty box following Kucherov’s first goal, Crosby was given a 10-minute misconduct after arguing with referee Garrett Rank.
Stamkos made it 2-0 with a man-advantage goal with 5:44 left in the first. It was his 113th power-play goal, which broke a tie with Vincent Lecavalier (112) for most in Tampa Bay history.
After Vasilevskiy had a stellar save on Carl Hagelin, Tampa Bay took a 3-0 lead on Gourde’s backhand with two-tenths of second remaining in the first.
“Three-nothing, 2-1, I think that was a big part of the game,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Niemi made an in-close save on Gourde during a short-handed 2-on-none 5 in minutes into the game. Niemi also lost 5-4 at Tampa Bay Oct. 12.
NOTES: The Penguins acquired F Riley Sheahan and a 2018 fifth-round draft pick from Detroit for F Scott Wilson and a 2018 third-round draft pick. … The Penguins are 0-3 in the second game of back-to-back games, all started by Niemi. “I think we put ourselves in some bad spots,” Crosby said. “We’ve got a lot of cracks at them, so we’ve to find a way to do better.” Pittsburgh, with an NHL-high 19 back-to-back games, beat Florida 4-3 on Friday night. … Penguins RW Carter Rowney left early in the first after blocking a shot and didn’t return.
Penguins: Host Edmonton on Tuesday night.
Lightning: At Carolina on Tuesday night.