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Stamkos, Kucherov lead Lightning past Penguins, 7-1

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)


Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are making it look easy and the Tampa Bay Lightning are reaping the benefits.

The Tampa Bay stars both extended their season-opening points streaks to nine games and the Lightning routed the two-time Stanley Cup Pittsburgh Penguins 7-1 on Saturday night.

"Just proud of the way we played throughout the whole game," Stamkos said. "Sometimes those are tough games to play but we played the right way."

Stamkos had a goal and three assists, and Kucherov had two goals and an assist. They are the first teammates to start the season with nine-game streaks since St. Louis' Pavol Demitra and Doug Weight in 2001-02.

The duo have combined for 34 points.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, coming off a 43-save blanking of Columbus on Thursday night, lost his bid for second straight shutout bid on Jake Guentzel's goal with 1:42 to play. Vasilevskiy finished with 28 saves.

Yanni Gourde, Brayden Point, Anton Stralman and Mikhail Sergachev also scored to help the Lightning improve to 7-1-1.

Penguins star Sidney Crosby received both minor and misconduct penalties during the opening 1:36 of the game. Backup goalie Antti Niemi, 0-3 in three starts, stopped 25 shots.

"Obviously, I don't want to take a penalty on the first shift out there," Crosby said. "They score on the power play. It's not the why you want to start. That's on me."

Pittsburgh is 5-2 over its last seven games, with both losses against Tampa Bay.

With Crosby off for cross-checking, Kucherov scored at 1:36 of the first. Kucherov got his 10th goal in Tampa Bay's three-goal second.

After leaving the penalty box following Kucherov's first goal, Crosby was given a 10-minute misconduct after arguing with referee Garrett Rank.

Stamkos made it 2-0 with a man-advantage goal with 5:44 left in the first. It was his 113th power-play goal, which broke a tie with Vincent Lecavalier (112) for most in Tampa Bay history.

After Vasilevskiy had a stellar save on Carl Hagelin, Tampa Bay took a 3-0 lead on Gourde's backhand with two-tenths of second remaining in the first.

"Three-nothing, 2-1, I think that was a big part of the game," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

Niemi made an in-close save on Gourde during a short-handed 2-on-none 5 in minutes into the game. Niemi also lost 5-4 at Tampa Bay Oct. 12.


NOTES: The Penguins acquired F Riley Sheahan and a 2018 fifth-round draft pick from Detroit for F Scott Wilson and a 2018 third-round draft pick. ... The Penguins are 0-3 in the second game of back-to-back games, all started by Niemi. "I think we put ourselves in some bad spots," Crosby said. "We've got a lot of cracks at them, so we've to find a way to do better." Pittsburgh, with an NHL-high 19 back-to-back games, beat Florida 4-3 on Friday night. ... Penguins RW Carter Rowney left early in the first after blocking a shot and didn't return.


Penguins: Host Edmonton on Tuesday night.

Lightning: At Carolina on Tuesday night.


For more NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Updated October 21, 2017

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