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Lightning top Blue Jackets to complete season sweep

Jan 10, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Gavin Bayreuther (15) defends Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Nikita Kucherov tallied two goals and two assists as the Tampa Bay Lightning swept the season series against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets with a 6-3 victory on Tuesday night.

The right winger spearheaded a two-goal first period that lifted the Lightning to their third win of the season against Columbus and improved their winning streak at home to eight games.

Nicholas Paul had a goal and an assist, and Vladislav Namestnikov, Ross Colton and Brayden Point also found the back of the net. Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos had two assists apiece, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 20 saves. Brandon Hagel posted his 100th point with a first-period assist.

Tampa Bay improved to 8-1-0 in the regular season on home ice against the Blue Jackets since 2017. It swept the season series for the second consecutive year and for the eighth time in the past 13 campaigns.

The Lightning tied their season high with six goals — the fourth time they’ve reached that mark.

The Blue Jackets’ Gavin Bayreuther, Tim Berni and Kirill Marchenko had goals. Patrik Laine had two helpers. With goalie Joonas Korpisalo remaining in Columbus for the birth of his first child, Elvis Merzlikins started and stopped 40 shots.

Columbus was missing Vladislav Gavrikov, who was injured in Sunday’s 1-0 loss at Washington. Adam Boqvist — scratched the previous two matches — drew into the rear guard.

In the first period, Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic gave the puck away to Kucherov, who sent it up ice. The Lightning right winger got back in the play and chipped in the first tally off Erik Cernak’s feed at 1:40.

On the Lightning’s first power play, Kucherov faked a one-timer and slid a pass to Paul, who was skating through the slot. Paul shoveled in his 15th goal at 9:05 as the home side took control with a 2-0 lead.

In the second period, Bayreuther’s long blast found its way in at 7:04 for his second goal of the season. But after sloppy play by both teams in the neutral zone, Namestnikov snared a pass, breezed in on a breakaway and tucked in his third tally at 10:25 to regain the two-goal margin.

Berni scored his first NHL goal by beating Vasilevskiy 4:35 into the third to trim it to 3-2, but Kucherov and Point netted man-advantage markers. Colton scored on a rebound, and Marchenko tallied his ninth goal to cap the scoring.

–Field Level Media