Nikita Kucherov sparks Lightning in win over Devils


Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point like playing on the same line, and it’s a combination that’s working out well for the Tampa Bay Lightning, too.

Kucherov had a goal and three assists for his first four-point game, Point added a goal and two assists, and the Lightning beat the struggling New Jersey Devils 5-1 Monday night.

“He’s a speedy player who is fun to play with,” Kucherov said of Point.

Point returned the compliment.

“He’s so easy to play with,” he said. “He gets the puck to me in easy places. Kuch just works some good passes and I just shoot.”

Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist, and Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde also scored to help the Lightning become the first team in the league to reach 20 wins this season. Ryan McDonagh had two assists and Louis Domingue stopped 26 shots as Tampa Bay got its third straight win and sixth in seven games.

Egor Yakovlev scored his first career goal for the Devils, who have lost six straight and eight of nine. Keith Kinkaid started and gave up four goals on 20 shots before he was pulled after two periods. Cory Schneider had five saves in the third.

“You have to give them credit,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “They are a heck of a hockey team. They just outworked us. Sometimes, it becomes a slippery slope. We didn’t play well enough to win the game.”

New Jersey, which lost in regulation at home for only the second time this season, seemed to have the better of the early play, outshooting the Lightning 7-1 over the first 10 minutes, but it didn’t take long for league’s top offensive team get going.

First, Kucherov extended his points streak to 10 games — one shy of his career high — with a goal with a little more than six minutes left in the first period on a 13-meter shot that seemed to handcuff Kinkaid.

Asked if he’s having a torrid streak, Kucherov replied: “Maybe that’s something you should say something about. I just play hockey.”

Predators 2, Sabres 1

In Nashville, Kevin Fiala scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period and the Predators beat Buffalo.

Ryan Ellis also scored and Pekka Rinne stopped 20 shots to help Nashville win its second straight.

Sam Reinhart had a goal for the Sabres, who have lost three straight after a 10-game winning streak.

Stars 4, Oilers 1

In Dallas, Jamie Benn scored his fifth goal in six games, helping the Stars beat Edmonton.