Lightning thump Kings, 6-2
Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point each scored goals on a two-man advantage less than two minutes apart in the first period Thursday as the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning extended their points streak to 16 consecutive games with a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. After going 13-0-1 in December to become just the eighth team in the last 10 years to avoid a loss in regulation during a calendar month, the Lightning made it 1-0-0 in the new year.
Only five other teams in the past 10 years have gone on points streaks of at least 16 games. Steven Stamkos added a goal and two assists, while Kucherov also had two assists as Tampa Bay improved its NHL-leading points total to 66. The Lightning were in total control from the outset, leading the Kings 16-7 in shots on goal during the opening period. Ryan Callahan also scored in the first period for Tampa Bay, which entered with an NHL-leading 4.13 goals per game.
The Lightning capitalized on a 5-on-3 advantage just over six minutes into the game as Kucherov and Stamkos exchanged passes until Kucherov seized an opening past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick for his 20th of the season. With the Lightning still on an extended two-man advantage, after Brendan Leipsic's double-minor for high sticking, Point caught Quick off balance after another feed from Stamkos for his 24th of the season. Callahan made it 3-0 with a steal near center ice and a backhand shot past a fallen Quick. It was Callahan's fourth goal of the season. Ryan McDonagh needed just 25 seconds into the second period to give Tampa Bay a 4-0 lead with his fourth of the season.
Austin Wagner got the Kings on the scoreboard at 7:55 of the second period when he pounced on a turnover near center ice and converted on the breakaway for his fourth of the season. Less than 10 minutes later, the Lightning had a four-goal lead again at 5-1 when Stamkos delivered his 23rd, while Kucherov added his 49th assist. Mathieu Joseph scored his 10th, on an assist from Callahan, midway through the third period. The Kings' Drew Doughty scored his fourth of the season with under three minutes to play. The Lightning won its second game on a three-game California trip after winning at Anaheim on New Year's Eve. The trip concludes Saturday night at San Jose. Right wing Dustin Brown tied Luc Robitaille for the second-most games played in Kings history at 1,077, behind only Dave Taylor (1,111).
(With inputs from agencies.)