Point's 2 goals and Kucherov's 4 points give Lightning 5-3 win over Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Brayden Point scored two third-period goals and Nikita Kucherov had a four-point night to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday in a battle of teams fighting for playoff positioning.

Two of the Lightning's goals came on special teams, one short-handed and the other with the man advantage. Tampa Bay entered the game with the NHL's top power play.

“In the end, it was special teams play,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “If you can win that battle, it gives you a chance to win the game, so special teams was big for us tonight.”

With his 37th and 38th goals, Point has eight points against the Knights over the past three meetings. Kucherov had a goal and three assists to extend his point streak to 11 games and overtake Colorado’s Nathan McKinnon with an NHL-best 118 points.

Anthony Cirelli and Anthony Duclair scored the other goals for the Lightning, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 24 saves. Steven Stamkos had two assists, giving him a six-game point streak.

Duclair has at least a point in all four games since Tampa Bay acquired him from San Jose.

“I'm just trying to learn the system,” Duclair said. “I'm still getting used to the plays and stuff like that. I'm getting to know the guys' tendencies out there, but you're playing with Kuch, Pointer. The game's easier out there, a lot easier.”

Jonathan Marchessault, Brett Howden and Ben Hutton scored for Vegas. Marchessault's goal was his team-best 38th, also a career high, that came in his 500th career game for the Knights. Keegan Kolesar had two assists, Shea Theodore expanded his point streak to five games with an assist and Adin Hill stopped 16 shots.

In the meeting between teams that have captured three of the previous four Stanley Cup championships, Tampa Bay took another step in solidifying a wild-card spot. The Lightning have won four in a row and five of six.

Vegas, which had won three of four games, is three points ahead of Minnesota for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

“When I watch it again, I'll look at it and say, ‘We played well enough to win, but we didn't,’” Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “The position we're in at this time of the year, you can't have too many of those. You've got to make sure you're putting yourself in position to win every night, and we did do that. OK, let's do that again Thursday. Let's do that again Saturday.”

Both teams scored off rushes in the first period, Marchessault on a three-on-one for the Knights and Cirelli a short-hander on a two-on-none for the Lightning. Duclair put Tampa Bay ahead 2-1 on a goal from in front of the net midway through the period.

The Knights tied the game with 3:08 left in the second period when Kolesar sprung Howden free on a long pass. Howden buried the two-on-one from the left circle.

Tampa Bay retook the lead 4:52 into the third period when Point scored from the right circle. The advantage didn't last long. Vegas' Hutton scored from the slot 3:24 later to once again even the score.

Point put the Lightning ahead for good at 12:14 and Kucherov scored an empty netter with 1:09 remaining. Cassidy challenged the last goal for a high stick, but it was upheld.

“I thought they came out really strong (in the third period),” Point said. “We kind of weathered it.”


Lightning: At San Jose on Thursday night.

Golden Knights: Host Seattle on Thursday night.