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Nikita Kucherov stays hot as Lightning top Avs

Feb 15, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard (49) skate after the puck during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

NHL points leader Nikita Kucherov extended his point streak to 10 games with two goals, including the game-winner, and an assist as the Tampa Bay Lightning topped the visiting Colorado Avalanche 6-3 on Thursday night.

Kucherov gave his club its final lead when he finished a backhanded pass by Brayden Point for his 36th goal at 8:13 of the third period to break a 3-3 tie.

Point and Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist apiece, and Anthony Cirelli and Nick Perbix each posted empty-net goals as the Lightning won for the 11th time in 14 games (11-3-0).

Brandon Hagel had two assists, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves as Tampa Bay improved to 18-5-3 at home.

Colorado’s Bowen Byram scored twice and Artturi Lehkonen added a goal and an assist. Nathan MacKinnon notched two assists to bring his point total to 89. Colorado finished 1-4-1 on its six-game road trip.

In his second start this month and third this season, backstop Justus Annunen stopped 33 shots.

With the Lightning sporting their new third jerseys with a circular logo for the first time, Annunen put on a goaltending display early and denied eight shots, including two by the home side’s top-ranked power play.

Colorado broke through against Vasilevskiy when Byram took a diagonal pass from Mikko Rantanen and chipped a goal in at 15:08 of the first period.

MacKinnon, who is second in the NHL in points, earned the secondary assist on the tally.

The Lightning tied the score on a loose puck that hit the stanchion and bounced into the slot. Point then narrowly beat two Colorado defenders and deposited his 26th goal of the season at 17:18.

Just 67 seconds later, Kucherov put the Lightning ahead for the first time, banging home a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle.

In the second period, Vasilevskiy appeared to make a stop on Ross Colton, but the puck settled behind his pads, dangerously close to the goal line.

During a scramble, Byram reached around and shoved in his eighth goal at 15:03 to tie the score at 2-all.

Lehkonen tallied his sixth goal and third in two games on the power play at 3:40, but Stamkos’ 23rd marker on a breakaway 20 seconds later tied it again.

Cirelli (12th goal) and Perbix (second) rounded out the scoring in the final minute.

–Field Level Media

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