Kucherov scores hat trick for Lightning against Sabers

BUFFALO – Nikita Kucherov scored their fourth NHL hat trick, and the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Buffalo Sabers 6-1 at KeyBank Center on Tuesday.

It was Kucherov’s first goals in three games since returning to the roster on Thursday after missing 32 games with a lower-body injury sustained on October 16. He was operated on on October 26.

“He’s a special player and I think we all see him,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “His vision and anticipation of what’s going on, he’s one step ahead of everyone. His timing always comes up, he’ll be the first I think to tell you.… This game is tough and he’s rewarded. You’re seeing those dots, but it’s the subtle little things that he does in zone D, in breakouts and all those other things that we as coaches really respect and appreciate when he’s 200ft. [down] ice. I hope he only gets better from here. “

Video: TBL @ BUF: Kucherov scores hat trick against Sabers

Steven stamkos scored one goal and had two assists, and Alex killorn notched three assists for the Lightning (24-9-5), who won three of four. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 17 saves for his 20th win of the season.

Vinnie Hinostroza marked, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen allowed two goals on nine shots before leaving after the first period with a lower body injury. Buffalo coach Don Granato did not receive a post-game update.

Malcolm subban made 23 relief saves for the Sabers (10-19-6), who lost six in a row (0-4-2).

“Obviously we needed a better effort,” said Granato. “It was individual, but it was collective. And you could tell they were ready for us. They were super precise tonight and they performed. Obviously, they got full training back with the return of Kucherov and they’re healthy right now and they’re feeling it. You can see it tonight. We obviously didn’t perform as we wanted. No apologies. We weren’t sharp and we paid for it price. “

Ondrej Palat took a pass from Victor hedman into the slot and scored from the glove side on Luukkonen to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 2:46 of the first period. Palat has scored five goals in a four-goal streak.

Antoine Cirelli scored from the lunge on a reckless run to make it 2-0 at 10:45 am.

“We knew we didn’t do our best in the last game so we wanted to have a good start, and I thought we did,” said Stamkos.

Video: TBL @ BUF: Stamkos scores in 2nd period

Kucherov increased the lead to 3-0 on the power play after 27 seconds of the second period, scoring from the top of the right circle after an easy entry. He extended it to 4-0 at 10:21 moments after leaving the penalty area, tapping in a cross pass from Corey perry to the left of the net.

Killorn sent a pass behind the net to Stamkos entering the lunge to bring the score to 5-0 at 2:04 pm.

Hinostroza took advantage of a rebound that bounced off him at the bottom of the left circle on the power play to reduce him to 5-1 at 5:31 of the third period.

Kucherov scored from the high lunge at 13:57 for the 6-1 final.

“It was our fault,” said the Sabers forward Zemgus Girgenson noted. “We gave one of the better teams some very dangerous scoring chances. It was our fault. At this point it was just mental to come back in. It was a tough night. It’s not like that’s what we want to play. “

Palat left the game in the second half with an undisclosed injury.

“’Pally’s’ is working on something,” Cooper said. “So we just thought that whenever we can give it a rest, we’ll give it a rest, and that’s what we did tonight.”

REMARKS: Kucherov tied Tyler johnson for the fourth most hat-trick in Lightning history behind Stamkos (9), Martin St. Louis (8) and Vincent Lecavalier (6). … Vasilevskiy has won 20 or more games in six consecutive seasons. … Defender of the Lightning Zach Bogosian was plus-2 with two hits in 18:25 in his first game against the Sabers since being placed on a hardcore waiver on February 21, 2020.… Palat played his 589th game to tie Johnson for seventh in the history of Tampa Bay. … Cheeky Jack quinn, selected by the Sabers with the No.8 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, played 4:30 p.m. and had three shots on goal in his NHL debut.

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