ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist for his fifth straight multi-point game, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 150th career NHL win and the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on Friday night.
Vasilevskiy — who has 13 straight wins in regulation — stopped 23 shots. He is the fourth goalie in league history to get 150 victories in less than 250 games played (246). The others are Ken Dryden (241), Andy Moog (245) and Braden Holtby (246).
“You look in the last few years here we have some special players on this team and he is right at the top. It’s great to see him being rewarded like that, especially in that last stretch,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Vasilevskiy is 13-0-2 with a 2.10 goals against average during that span. His string of earning a point in 15 straight games is second in franchise history and one away from tying Nikolai Khabibulin’s 2003 mark.
Kucherov put the game out of reach midway through the third period with a highlight goal to put the Lightning ahead 4-2. He took a stretch pass from Steven Stamkos, split the Anaheim defense and went top shelf with a backhand past Anaheim goaltender John Gibson for his ninth goal in the past 10 games.
“You have to be fearless to go through the middle like he did. He bounced off it. He takes that backhand everyday and to do that against an elite goalie, not too many guys can go do that,” Cooper said.
“It was an unbelievable play,” Tampa Bay defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “I think the way he takes that pass initially and kind of sneaks through both of those guys. He does a tremendous job of hiding his stick and not showing the goalie which way he is going to put it. To put it top shelf was a pretty sick move.”
Anthony Cirelli, who also had a goal and an assist, had the go-ahead goal with 1:02 remaining in the second period when Jan Rutta’s shot deflected off his skate and into the net.
Ondrej Palat and Erik Cernak also scored for the Lightning.
Rickard Rakell and Michael Del Zotto each had a goal and an assist for Anaheim, which has gone 3-3 in its last six games, while Ryan Getzlaf added a pair of assists. Troy Terry scored late in the third period and Gibson made 18 saves.
“It feels like we’re playing really well from time to time, or most times in the game, and then something happens and it’s in the back of the net,” Rakell said.
Palat opened the scoring at 4:07 with his first goal in 12 games. Cirelli dumped the puck into the Ducks’ zone and then chased it behind the net before feeding it to Palat for his 13th of the season.
Rakell tied it four minutes later with a wrist shot, beating Vasilevskiy through a screen. Rakell fanned on his first shot before regaining possession and firing a shot after making a spin move to get free from Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.
Cernak put Tampa Bay back on top with 5:17 remaining in the first when he took a pass from Brayden Point and tapped it past Gibson. It is the first time the second-year defenseman has scored in back-to-back games. Del Zotto evened it with 1:31 left with a wrist shot through traffic.
Terry scored with 11.9 seconds remaining when Anaheim had the extra skater. He skated in front of the net and deflected Rakell’s pass over Vasilevskiy.
Gibson wore a Kobe Bryant tribute mask for the game. The mask featured a silhouette of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, surrounded by the names of the seven other victims of last Sunday’s fatal helicopter crash. The mask also included the years of all five of his championships and his 81-point game. Bryant’s jersey numbers of No. 24 and 8 were also prominently displayed on both sides.
NOTES: Stamkos also extended his point streak to six games with an assist on Kucherov’s goal. … Patrick Maroon’s second-period assist gave him a point in 11 straight games against Anaheim. … Getzlaf has eight multi-point games this season.
Lightning: At San Jose Sharks on Saturday to complete a four-game trip.
Ducks: At Los Angeles Kings on Saturday in this season’s third installment of the Freeway Series.
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