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NHL: Lightning Erupt in First Period to Blank Stars, 6-0

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored two goals and dished an assist to lead the Lightning to its fourth consecutive offensive explosion Thursday evening. The Lightning scored four first period goals, three in a 2:01 span, to sail past the Dallas Stars 6-0 at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Stamkos got the ball rolling early with the Lightning’s first goal at 8:23 into the first and then he scored his second goal on Tampa Bay’s second power play goal, which gave the Lightning a 6-0 advantage at 16:28 in the second period.

“We started the game and scored on our chances,” said Stamkos, “We get a power-play goal early. For us, when we are on our game, we are creating some offensive-zone time and we’re getting calls.”

He picked up his 31st and 32nd goals of the season while Nikita Kucherov’s three assists sent his total to a league-leading total to 66 on the season as he has piled up 92 points as both lead the NHL.

Tampa Bay has recorded 22 goals in the last four games with 13 different players scoring while the team has been 6-of-12 on the power play after going 1-for-10 in the five previous games.

“The pucks were going in the net for us and we capitalized on our opportunities,” said Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Cooper. “When that happens, you’re really putting a team on its heels. It was, ‘how are we going to handle this?’ We get to the third and we’re playing for our goalie.”

Thursday’s win over Dallas was much of the same with five different players scoring and Stamkos as the only repeater.

Kucherov continued his hot streak with a goal and three assists as he recorded his third three-point game in a row in the first period alone.

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was perfect in the net as he stopped all 32 Dallas Stars shots on goal. He tied former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop for the most shut outs all-time in the history of the franchise with 4-0-2 in his last six starts.

“He has been unbelievable for us for the whole season,” said Kucherov, “He’s a top goalie in the league. Especially for him, after the first period we were up 4-0, we just want to make sure we play smart and we don’t give up chances.”

After Stars center Matthias Janmark tripped Stamkos to set up the Tampa Bay Lightning’s second power play of the night at 7:11 in the first period, Stamkos wasted little time setting the tone, scoring off the left side at 7:19 on a pass from Ondrej Palat with Kucherov also assisting.

Some 5:20 later, the deciding power surge shook the Stars’ universe.

Mikhail Sergachev scored his third goal of the season. It was also his third goal in six games as he added the Lightning’s second goal of the period.

Sergachev went top shelf on a slap shot to give the Bolts a 2-0 lead and then immediately off the face off, Stamkos picked up an assist as he passed to Tyler Johnson, who caught Stars goalie Anton Khudobin leaning to his right. Johnson then pushed the puck into the net as he used an angle.

It was Johnson’s 20th goal of the season with Palat assisting on the back-to-back effort.

With that third goal, Stars coach Jim Montgomery pulled Khudobin for rookie goalie Landon Bow.

Kucherov was in no welcoming mood to the new Dallas goalie by following his two assists by smacking the Lightning’s fourth goal of the first period over Bow’s left shoulder to give Tampa Bay a 4-0 advantage at 14:40.

It was Kucherov’s 26th goal of the evening and his fourth in the last three games, set up by Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli.

With that quick fourth goal, Khudobin reassumed the crease in the second period.

Killorn contributed his 12th marker of the season after Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak failed to secure the puck off Khudobin’s blocker. 

The puck went off Oleksiak’s stick and onto Killorn’s waiting blade where he snapped in off the back of Khudobin’s blocker as he put Tampa Bay ahead 5-0 at the 8:23 mark of the second period.

Stamkos added his power play goal 8:05 later in the second when he sent his pass across the ice to Kucherov who returned it to him in the middle. Stamkos then went high on Khudobin for the 6-0 lead.

___________________________________________________

Ken Cross is a sports contributor for Florida National News. | info@floridanationalnews.com

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