Namestnikov lifts Lightning


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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper didn’t want to jinx the defending Eastern Conference champion’s best stretch of the season.

“Let’s not talk about that,” Cooper said with a smile after Vladislav Namestnikov completed a hat trick in overtime and the Lightning beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 on Friday night to extend a season-high four-game winning streak.

Valtteri Filppula and Anton Stralman also scored for Tampa Bay and Steven Stamkos had two assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves.

Pittsburgh got goals from Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist, Trevor Daley and Chris Kunitz. Evgeni Malkin had two assists, giving him 23 assists and 42 points in 31 games against Tampa Bay.

Namestnikov scored the winner from in close 2:11 into the extra session. The 23-year-old forward has three goals and five assists during a four-game point streak.

“He’s spent a lot of time in the minors,” Cooper said. “He’s had to fight for everything. He’s stuck with it. He’s earned it, and deserves it.”

Marc-Andre Fleury made 20 saves for the Penguins.

Pittsburgh rallied from two down for a one-goal lead on third-period goals by Daley (10:13) and Kunitz (13:48) before Stralman tied it 4-4 with 4:39 left.

Tampa Bay made the Penguins pay for three penalties over a 69-second span midway through the second. After Filppula scored during a 5-on-3 at 8:12, Namestnikov put the Lightning up 3-1 with a nice redirection of Victor Hedman’s shot at 10:47.

Hornqvist cut the deficit to 3-2 on a power-play goal with 5:37 to go in the second.

“We have to find a way to stay out of the penalty box,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We can’t give a team that has that much firepower extended 5-on-3s like that. Regardless of how or why, we’ve got to find a way to avoid those circumstances.”

Blackhawks 4, Maple Leafs 1

In Toronto, Chicago’s Patrick Kane had three goals for his first hat trick of the season.

Artemi Panarin also scored and assisted on two of Kane’s goals for the Blackhawks. Scott Darling made 28 saves to earn the win in net for Chicago while Corey Crawford took the night off after a 2-1 win in Montreal the night before.

Canucks 3, Hurricanes 2 (OT)

In Raleigh, North Carolina, Bo Horvat scored his second goal with 1:35 left in overtime and Vancouver beat the Hurricanes.

Horvat also had two goals against Carolina in a 3-2 win nine days earlier and has scored four of his eight goals this season against the Eastern Conference foe.

Jets 1, Wild 0

In St. Paul, Minnesota, Winnipeg rookie Connor Hellebuyck became the first goalie to shut out the Wild this season, and Edmonton used an early goal by Blake Wheeler to beat Minnesota.

Hellebuyck won his NHL debut against the Wild on Nov. 27 with a 3-1 decision and made 24 saves in this one. Detroit is now the only remaining NHL team that hasn’t gone scoreless in a game this season.

Bruins 4, Sabres 1

In Buffalo, Zdeno Chara floated in the go-ahead goal 29 seconds into the third period.

Ryan Spooner scored an insurance goal with 9:07 left and added two assists, and Brett Connolly scored into an empty net with 1:09 remaining.

Ducks 4, Stars 2

In Anaheim, Jakob Silfverberg had a goal and an assist and the NHL’s lowest-scoring team blasted the highest-scoring team for four goals in the first period.

Frederik Andersen made 22 saves for the Ducks.