Nikita Kucherov lifts Lightning past Senators in shootout
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Lightning finally came out on the winning side of a one-goal game at home.
Nikita Kucherov scored the lone shootout goal and the Lightning beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Thursday night.
Kucherov beat Craig Anderson on the first shot during the shootout, while Lightning goalie Ben Bishop stopped all three shots he faced.
Tyler Johnson, B.J. Crombeen and Ondrej Palat scored in regulation for the Lightning, who had lost each of their previous five home games (0-3-2) by one goal. Victor Hedman, who sat out a game with a leg injury, had three assists in his return.
"We want to be up there in the top of the league," Hedman said. "We have to find ways to win."
Tampa Bay moved into a first-place tie with Boston — which has two games at hand — in the Atlantic Division.
Erik Karlsson, Clarke MacArthur and Chris Neil had the Ottawa goals. The Senators are 2-6 in shootouts this season.
"It’s a skills competition," Anderson said. "It should be reserved for All-Star games."
Neil tied it at 3 from the right circle with 2:18 remaining in the third. It was his 100th NHL goal.
"It was a while coming," said Neil, who has played in 824 NHL games. "Obviously, the way I play, just plugging around and sticking around, it is a milestone. I’ve got the puck. It will go up in my basement."
Tampa Bay went ahead 3-2 at 5:31 of the third when Martin St. Louis extended his point streak to nine games by sending a pass through the slot to Palat, who scored from just below the left circle.
"You don’t like to give up the extra point to somebody in our division, but I just want to make sure we get two," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
St. Louis (963) moved within two points of tying Maurice Richard (965) for 85th on the NHL list.
Crombeen’s redirection put the Lightning up 2-1 at 3:30 of the second. MacArthur got the Senators even at 2 by putting an in-close power-play shot past Bishop with 3:03 left in the second.
Ottawa’s power play, the NHL’s top-ranked road unit, had mixed results in its second opportunity in the first period. After Johnson beat Anderson for a short-handed goal at 14:32, Karlsson tied it at 1 on his third goal and 23rd man-advantage point of the season 40 seconds later.
The Senators are 29th in the home power-play rankings.
"You tell me. I’ve been trying to answer that question for 50 games," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "I’m not sure if it’s a comfort level or what it is, but we’ve got to keep working on it. We believe that if we continue to work at it, it’s going to get good everywhere."
Anderson was coming off a 2-0 victory Tuesday at Washington, which was the Senators’ second straight road shutout.
NOTES: Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos, sidelined since breaking his right shin on Nov. 11, was OK after taking a spill during a drill at the team’s morning skate. "I was kind of laughing," Stamkos said. "It’s the first time I’ve fallen in 10 weeks. Just knowing that everything was fine, you get right back up, I didn’t feel anything whatsoever. So, that’s nice." Stamkos, who hasn’t ruled out playing in the Sochi Olympics next month, was scheduled to have X-rays Thursday night to see how the leg is progressing. … MacLean used the same lineup as the Washington game, including D Marc Methot being scratched. … Chicago Blackhawks senior adviser and 13-time Stanley Cup winner Scotty Bowman, a regular at Lightning home games, is scheduled to have right knee replacement surgery Friday in Tampa.