TAMPA, Fla. (AP)Nikita Kucherov had two goals and two assists, and the Tampa Bay Lightning won their eighth consecutive home game, 6-3 over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
Tampa Bay also got goals from Nick Paul, Vladislav Namestnikov, Brayden Point and Ross Colton. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 20 saves.
Steven Stamkos had two assists but remains two goals away from becoming the 47th NHL player to reach 500. The Lightning captain has one goal in his last 11 games, but he reached 300 career assists at home to break Martin St. Louis’ team record (298).
Coming off road losses at Minnesota and Winnipeg in which Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper called his team’s play disappointing and unacceptable, the Lightning outshot Columbus 21-6 en route to 2-0 lead after the first period.
”There was a lot to like about the game, and I’m not going to sit here and say a few moments that ended up in the back of the net are going to sour the night, but it’s something we definitely have to get better at,” Cooper said.
Elvis Merzlikins stopped 40 shots for Columbus. Gavin Bayreuther, Tim Berni and Kirill Marchenko scored for the Blue Jackets, who have lost 10 in a row on the road and are 2-14-1 away from home.
”The more things are struggling, the more we’re getting frustrated,” Bayreuther said. ”Unfortunately, that’s not the way things are going to work to get out of this hole. We’ve got to stay positive, and we’ve got to come together and make sure we’re coming together and being a very good, healthy team before anything happens.”
Berni got his first NHL goal and point, coming in his 17th game, 4:35 into the third period to cut the deficit to 3-2. But 11 seconds after Merzlikins was given a penalty for shooting the puck over the glass, Kucherov scored a power-play goal at 6:33.
It was Kucherov’s 21st career four-point game. Only Edmonton star Connor McDavid, with 30, has more since 2013-14.
Point extended his team record of consecutive home games with a goal to nine with Tampa Bay’s third power-play goal with 7:38 left. Colton scored 1:26 later to make it 6-2.
Point’s streak tied McDavid for the longest this season.
Marchenko got his ninth goal this season without an assist at 16:34.
Kucherov opened the scoring 1:40 into the game from in close, and set up Paul’s power-play goal at 9:05 of the first with a nifty fake shot pass.
”When you’re on the ice with him you expect the unexpected,” Paul said. ”He didn’t look at me once and it was right on my tape.”
After Bayreuther made it 2-1 at 7:04 of the second, Namestnikov had a breakaway goal 3:21 later. Bayreuther has two goals in his last four games after going without one since May 7, 2021.
Columbus was without goalies Joonas Korpisalo and Daniil Tarasov. Korpisalo left to join his wife Anna for the birth of the couple’s first child. Tarasov, who missed his sixth consecutive game with an upper-body injury, was placed on injured reserve.
Blue Jackets: D Vladislav Gavrikov (upper body) was scratched. . Columbus has 10 players out with injuries. . D Andrew Peeke briefly left after Stamkos’ shot appeared to hit him in the abdominal area.
Lightning: D Victor Hedman returned after missing one game for the birth of his son and had two assists.
”It’s been tremendous,” Hedman said. ”Obviously, a big blessing for me to be there for it, and come back in today and see the guys and win a hockey game. That’s as good as it gets.”
Blue Jackets: Return home Thursday night to play Carolina.
Lightning: Host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports