Brayden Point’s hat trick powers Lightning’s win over Penguins
Point scored three straight power-play goals in 1:31 — the sixth-fastest three goals in NHL history — and the Lightning beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on Thursday night.
“That’s a first for me,” Point said. “They told me after the game, so it’s pretty cool. Guys made good plays and I was able to score.”
Bill Mosienko holds the record, scoring three times in 21 seconds for Chicago against New York in 1952. Point’s 91-second burst was the first NHL hat trick of his career and the second-fastest three goals since 1967-68.
“It’s great to see because he’s such a hard worker and he plays the game the right way,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “You like to see those guys get rewarded and he was tonight.”
Pittsburgh took three penalties in 10 seconds in the final minute of the first period. Point’s first power-play goal came with 2.7 seconds left in the first. He scored twice in the first 1:28 of the second period, finishing two slick one-touch passing sequences with one-timers.
“I thought we moved the puck well,” Point said. “Obviously, 5-on-3s are pretty tough to defend, and I thought we weren’t getting too cute with it. I thought we were making good plays to the net and shooting the puck.”
Yanni Gourde also had a power-play goal, Nikita Kucherov added three assists, and backup goalie Louis Domingue made 28 saves to help the Lightning win for the fifth time in seven games. Starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is out indefinitely after injuring a foot during practice Wednesday.
Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby sat out after sustaining an upper-body injury Tuesday night at New Jersey. Coach Mike Sullivan confirmed the injury is not a concussion, and Crosby is considered day-to-day, but will likely miss a week.
Patric Hornqvist scored twice for Pittsburgh, Phil Kessel also connected, Evgeni Malkin had two assists and Matt Murray stopped 22 shots. The Penguins have lost seven of eight following a four-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh committed eight penalties through two periods, which led to four Tampa Bay power-play goals.
“We put ourselves in a real tough spot at the end of the first period,” Sullivan said. “We have to find a way to get through that and we didn’t get it done, so we have to be better.”
Newly acquired forward Tanner Pearson was in the lineup for Pittsburgh. The Penguins acquired Pearson from Los Angeles on Wednesday in exchange for Carl Hagelin in a roster shakeup. Pearson skated with Malkin and Hornqvist.
“Tanner is a guy that we think can help us offensively,” Sullivan said. “He’s played with top players when he was in L.A. and we’d like to give him a decent look and see if he can develop some chemistry.”
The teams combined to score the first five goals on power plays.
Hornqvist scored Pittsburgh’s first power-play goal at home in seven games when he tipped Kessel’s shot behind Domingue. Kessel gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal later in the period.
Hornqvist’s second goal tied it for Pittsburgh, but Gourde gave Tampa Bay the lead with the Lightning’s fourth power-play goal of the game, a blocker-side slap shot from the top of the circle.
“Clearly special teams was a big part of this game,” Cooper said. “They got their chances and scored and we got ours and scored. The power play was huge for us tonight and gave us momentum.”
NOTES: Kucherov had his 200th NHL assist. Gourde has points in eight of his last 10 games. Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn has an assist in a career-best four straight games. Kris Letang passed Syl Apps for sixth on the Penguins’ assists list. Letang has points in 11 of his last 14 games against Tampa Bay. … The Lightning allowed the first goal for the ninth time in the last 10 games. The Penguins wore their yellow third jerseys for the first time. Hall of Famer and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux dropped the puck for a ceremonial opening faceoff, celebrating 25 years of his foundation.
Lightning: At Philadelphia on Saturday night.
Penguins: At Ottawa on Saturday night.
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