Nikita Kucherov scores twice as Lightning throttle visiting Kings
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Ben Bishop came up big early and the Tampa Bay offense did the rest.
Bishop made 28 saves, Nikita Kucherov scored twice during a three-goal second period and the Lightning blanked the Los Angeles Kings 5-0 on Tuesday night.
Tampa Bay, which won consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 20-22, also got goals from Jonathan Drouin, Gabriel Dumont and Braydon Coburn.
“They’re battling, you can see that,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Kings goalie Peter Budaj turned aside 16 shots in losing for the second straight game after a five-game winning streak in which he had three shutouts. Budaj was pulled after allowing four goals over two periods in Sunday’s 5-0 defeat at Washington.
“If you look at the goals, it was odd-man rushes, breakaways,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said.
Bishop stopped 19 shots in the first, including a nifty glove save on Jake Muzzin’s drive from the left circle, en route to his first shutout this season and 19th overall.
“Just kind of had to hold the fort down in the first, and then the guys made it pretty easy the last two periods,” Bishop said.
The Lightning are last in the Atlantic Division, but just six points behind third-place Toronto.
After Kucherov had a breakaway goal seven minutes into the second, Dumont made it 3-0 at 11:02 with his first goal since April 17, 2013. Kucherov extended the lead to 4-0 on his 21st goal late in the period.
Kucherov had failed to score a goal in seven previous games this season against Pacific Division teams. The forward has scored at least 20 goals in three consecutive seasons.
Drouin scored the lone goal of the first at 7:46.
“I think our start was good. We had chances,” Kopitar said. “It could have been a lot different game, but that’s not how we’ve got to look at this one. Second in a row we’re getting scored on five times. So, we’ve got to clean that up.”
Drouin missed part of the second period after being checked along the boards.
Coburn stopped a 21-game goal drought in the third. He is one of several Tampa Bay defensemen who have struggled to score goals. Those with long droughts include Jason Garrison (28 games), Andrej Sustr (22), Victor Hedman (15) and Anton Stralman (11).
Darryl Sutter coached his 397th game with the Kings to move past Bob Pulford for sole possession of second place on the franchise list. … Tampa Bay C Alex Killorn was a late scratch due to an undisclosed injury. … Kings G Jonathan Quick, who has not played since hurting his groin in the season opener Oct. 12, is practicing with the team. … Hedman got his 35th assist on Dumont’s goal. … Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos, who might return in mid-March following right knee surgery, turned 27.
Kings: Complete a four-game road trip Thursday night at Florida.
Lightning: Play the first of four straight road games Friday night in Minnesota.