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Lightning strike early, often in rout of Rangers

AP

The Tampa Bay Lightning scored early and often in their first home game after an overseas trip.

Nikita Kucherov had a goal and three assists, Steven Stamkos scored his 399th career goal and added two assists, and the Lightning routed the New York Rangers 9-3 on Thursday night.

“These are unique games because in this league nobody is 9-3 better than the other,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “In 82 games you are going to see one or two of these. Guys are feeling it on your side and it’s frustrating (on the other). I’ve been on their side as well.”

The Lightning’s nine goals tied a team record. Five scores came on the power play, which also matched a franchise mark.

Kucherov had a goal and a pair of assists as Tampa Bay scored four times in the opening seven minutes. Stamkos got his second goal in 10 games on the power play during a four-goal second that made it 8-1.

“I mean, we just didn’t want to take our foot off the gas,” Stamkos said. “Not often do you have a game where you’re up like that so quick. I thought for the most part we did a pretty good job of attacking.”

Alex Killorn scored two power-play goals and picked up an assist, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 20 shots to tie Ben Bishop for the most wins by a Tampa Bay goalie with 131.

The Lightning, who hadn’t played since Saturday when they completed back-to back wins over Buffalo in Stockholm, Sweden, also got goals from Luke Schenn, Ondrej Palat, Pat Maroon, Kevin Shattenkirk and Yanni Gourde. Victor Hedman had three assists and Gourde recorded two assists.

“We had a great response coming back from the tough schedule that we just came back from,” Stamkos said. “Let’s keep this thing going.”

Filip Chytil scored two goals and Chris Kreider also scored for the Rangers. Alexandar Georgiev was pulled early on after allowing four goals on nine shots, before returning to start the third period. Henrik Lundqvist replaced Georgiev and gave up four goals on 19 shots.

“It’s hard not to have that one not stick with you a little bit,” Kreider said. “Obviously, it’s pretty embarrassing.”

After Schenn opened the scoring 2:39 into the game, three minutes later Tampa Bay scored three goals in 61 seconds to go up 4-0.

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