Kucherov scores late third-period goal to lead Lightning past Hurricanes
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning turned strange goals and solid goaltending into a victory.
Nikita Kucherov scored a pair of goals in the third period, and the Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on Thursday night.
Kucherov scored the winner when his pass went off Carolina defenseman Ron Hainsey and into the net with 30.3 seconds to play.
"Definitely ... tonight was lucky for us," Kucherov said.
Hainsey's misfortunate came in his 700th NHL game.
"It kind of just ended up as a mini 2-on-1 in front there," Hainsey said. "The puck came by, I didn't react, and kicked it in the net."
Lightning backup Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves in his 353rd NHL victory, two away from tying Rogie Vachon for 17th place on the league's career list.
"We'll take it," Nabokov said. "Two points is two points."
The Lightning avoided their first three-game losing streak since March.
"The main thing is we won," Tampa Bay forward Valtteri Filppula said. "I think you have to work for your luck."
Justin Faulk scored for the Hurricanes, who have scored four goals during a four-game losing streak. Cam Ward stopped 25 shots
The Lightning went ahead 1-0 at 6:35 of the third when Ward went behind the net after Anton Stralman dumped the puck into the offensive zone from center ice during a power play. The puck took a strange bounce off the end boards and ended up in front of the vacated net -- where Kucherov easily scored.
Faulk tied it at 12:03 of the third.
Ward stopped two shots by Steven Stamkos and made a glove save on Filppula during the final minute of the first. After Stamkos hit the crossbar early in the second, Ward made saves on Ryan Callahan and Filppula during a 3-on-1 later in the period.
"It's frustrating," Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner said. "Obviously, Ward played a great game. It's tough to let him down like that."
Stamkos had another shot go off the crossbar during a late second-period power play.
Nabokov turned aside Nathan Gerbe's in-close shot midway through the opening period. He also stopped a slot shot by Elias Lindholm in the second.
NOTES: Carolina put RW Alexander Semin on the injured list due to a lower-body injury and activated D Brett Bellemore from the injured list. Bellemore, who missed seven games with a lower body injury, didn't play. ... Tampa Bay LW Ondrej Palat was a late scratch because of a lower body injury and could return during an upcoming five-game road trip. ... Hurricanes C Andrej Nestrasil sat out with an upper body injury. ... Nabokov got an assist on Kucherov's goal. ... Carolina C Jordan Staal (broken right fibula) is practicing on a limited basis.