Wed, Jan 02, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Lightning finish month unbeaten after 2-1 victory

AP, ANAHEIM, California

Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning, center, shoots against the Anaheim Ducks in their NHL game at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning are taking their incredible roll right into the new year.

The Lightning on Monday won their sixth straight game and finished the month unbeaten in regulation after a 2-1 overtime victory against the Anaheim Ducks.

They went 12-0-1 last month and are the eighth NHL team in the past 10 years to finish a calendar month without a regulation loss after playing a minimum of eight games.

Tampa Bay head into this year on a 14-0-1 run and with a league-high 64 points. The Lightning are 17-1-1 over their past 19 games.

“When you’re hot, you’re hot, and it seems like everyone is getting hot at the same time,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “You have to take advantage when times like this happen.”

Kucherov had a goal and an assist for his ninth multi-point game in the month. Kucherov and Steven Stamkos are the first set of teammates to combine for 50 or more points in a calendar month since March 2001 when four pairs — three of which were combinations from Pittsburgh — accomplished the feat.

Kucherov and Stamkos combined for 23 goals and 28 assists last month.

“To think, especially in this era where there is a lot of tight checking and low-scoring games, to accumulate those types of points, it’s what those guys do,” Cooper said.

Brayden Point scored 35 seconds into overtime when he took a pass from Kucherov near the blue line.

Point skated into the zone, chipped the puck over the stick of Anaheim’s Brandon Montour and cut to the net, where he beat goalie John Gibson with a backhand.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 35 shots for his 100th NHL victory.

Nick Ritchie scored Anaheim’s lone goal and Gibson made 33 saves.

The Ducks have earned one point in each of their past two games, but are winless in their past six.

They go into this year as the first wild card in the Western Conference, but are just one point ahead of Dallas and three in front of Vancouver.

“We’re in a bit of a skid at the moment,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “We know what kind of group we have here. We need to get ready and get one again in January.”

Kucherov, who has a goal in four straight games, opened the scoring at 6 minutes, 6 seconds of the first period when he finished off a tic-tac-toe passing setup from Erik Cernak and Point with a shot that beat Gibson on his glove side. It was his ninth goal in the month.

Ritchie evened it with 2:52 remaining in the period when he got a pass from Ondrej Kase and beat Vasilevskiy from point-blank range.

“With the long travel day and early start it looked like we were in quicksand a little bit. Anaheim was on us. We managed the puck and the game well from the second period on,” Cooper said.

Also on Monday, it was:

‧ Devils 4, Canucks 0

‧ Kings 3, Avalanche 2, OT

‧ Canadiens 3, Stars 2, OT

‧ Flames 8, Sharks 5

‧ Islanders 3, Sabres 1

‧ Predators 6, Capitals 3

‧ Hurricanes 3, Flyers 1

‧ Penguins 3, Wild 2

‧ Rangers 2, Blues 1

‧ Blue Jackets 6, Senators 3

‧ Panthers 4, Red Wings 3, SO

‧ Jets 4, Oilers 3

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