Kucherov scores in 5th straight game, Lightning beat Blues
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Nikita Kucherov was well aware when asked about having a goal in every game this season.
“Who (wouldn’t),” Kucherov said with a smile after becoming the first Tampa Bay player to score in each of the first five games of a season as the Lightning beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 on Saturday night.
“Kuch has so much deception to his game,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “That’s why he’s a special player.”
According to the NHL, the last player to have a goal in each of his team’s first five games was San Jose’s Patrick Marleau in 2012.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves, and Tyler Johnson also scored for the Lightning, who have won four of five.
Vladimir Tarasenko got his fourth goal and Jake Allen stopped 25 shots for St. Louis, which has lost two in a row following a season-opening four-game winning streak.
“We definitely took a step backwards a little bit,” Allen said.
Kucherov made it 2-0 on a backhander at 6:27 of the third.
Tarasenko got the Blues with 2-1 with 3:23 to play. He has seven goals and nine points in nine games against Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay cashed in after the Blues were called for too many men on the ice when Johnson opened the scoring from the left circle 8:20 into the second.
“Terrible goal,” Allen said of the shot that went between his pads.
Brayden Point got his fifth assist and eighth point on Johnson’s goal.
Both goalies made a number of strong saves.
Vasilevskiy turned aside Paul Stastny’s point-blank chance during a first-period power play, while Allen had a kick save on Steven Stamkos’ shot in the first.
Stamkos, who missed the final 65 games last season with a knee injury, assisted on Kucherov’s goal and has six assists and seven points this season.
St. Louis had a power play over the game’s final 49.6 seconds when Kucherov received a high-sticking penalty but was stymied by Vasilevskiy, who had several saves.
NOTES: As part of a 25th anniversary season celebration, the Lightning honored the inaugural 1992-93 team before the game. Among those taking part were front office members Phil and Tony Esposito, and coach Terry Crisp. ... Phil Esposito drove the fan zamboni during the first intermission. ... Tampa Bay C Cedric Paquette played after missing one game with a lower-body injury. ... St. Louis LW Sammy Blais, recalled from San Antonio of the AHL Friday, made his NHL debut. He played 17:18 and had a couple good scoring chances during the first period.
Blues: Host Chicago Wednesday night.
Lightning: Start a three-game trip Monday night at Detroit.
More AP hockey: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey