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Nikita Kucherov helps Tampa Bay Lightning beat Vancouver Canucks 5-2 in fight-filled game

Lightning 5, Canucks 2
Nikita Kucherov December 3 2018
Posted at 3:40 AM, Dec 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-19 06:09:57-05

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist to reach 50 points this season and lead the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Tuesday night.

A feisty Canucks squad kept pace with Tampa Bay in a heated game marked by a flurry of fights, but couldn't overpower the top team in the NHL.

Cedric Paquette, Adam Erne, Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat also scored for the Lightning (26-7-2). Tampa Bay has not lost in regulation since Nov. 27.

Tyler Motte and Chris Tanev had the goals for the Canucks (16-17-4).

Anders Nilsson stopped 34 of 38 shots for Vancouver, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves for Tampa Bay.

Kucherov opened the scoring 8:40 into the game, getting the puck off a faceoff and firing a shot past Nilsson. Frustrated defenseman Erik Gudbranson broke his stick on the net as Tampa Bay celebrated.

Lightning center Brayden Point had an assist on the play, his 150th career point.

Vancouver responded less than a minute later. Canucks defenseman Troy Stecher found Motte in front and he tipped the puck past Vasilevskiy.

The Lightning went up again before the end of the first period thanks to a move by Danick Martel, who was playing just his second game of the season.

While spinning away from Vancouver's Ben Hutton, the left wing got a seemingly blind pass off to Paquette, who was alone in front. Paquette got the puck on his tape and popped it up over Nilsson's pad.

The assist was Martel's first NHL point.

Midway through the second, the Lightning struck again when Canucks right wing Brock Boeser struggled to clear the puck. Paquette found it in front and Erne deflected it in to put Tampa Bay up 3-1.

Fists flew throughout the second period, starting with a scrap between Vancouver's Antoine Roussel and Tampa Bay's Yanni Gourde.

The Canucks left wing hit the Lightning center along the boards, sparking a fight that saw Roussel pummel Gourde on the ice before officials could intervene.

Stecher left the ice and headed to the dressing room after a high hit from Martel, prompting another skirmish.

By the end of the period, referees had doled out a game misconduct, two fighting majors and three roughing penalties to Tampa Bay. A pair of Vancouver players was penalized for fighting, and four for roughing.

Despite all the time spent in the box, neither team managed a power-play goal.

Vancouver got back within one 5:46 into the third when Tanev squeezed a wrist shot past Vasilevskiy during a burst of activity in front of the Tampa Bay net.

Stamkos gave his team some insurance with more than two minutes to go, slipping a wrist shot past Nilsson.

Palat sealed it with an empty-netter less than a minute later, assisted by Kucherov.


Lightning: Play at Calgary on Thursday.

Canucks: Continue their five-game homestand Thursday against St. Louis.


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