TAMPA, Fla. (AP)Nikita Kucherov had an empty-net goal and three assists, Nick Perbix added his first NHL goal, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 on Saturday night.
Perbix, in his ninth career game, made it 4-3 on his shot from above the right circle off a pass from Kucherov with 4:55 to play. Kucherov extended his goal streak to six games with 58 seconds remaining.
Kucherov also has a 10-game point streak (13 assists, 19 points). It’s his sixth career streak of 10 or more games, which trails Martin St. Louis’ seven for most in team history. Among active players, Kucherov trails Sidney Crosby (10), Patrick Kane (seven) and Connor McDavid (seven).
Tampa Bay got also goals from Nicholas Paul, Brayden Point and Brandon Hagel, and backup Brian Elliott stopped 21 shots. Defenseman Victor Hedman returned after missing two games with an upper-body injury and had an assist.
Eric Comrie made 26 saves, and Zemgus Girgensons Casey Mittelstadt and Jeff Skinner scored for the Sabres, who were coming off a 5-3 loss at Carolina on Friday night. Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin was scratched due to an upper-body injury and is day to day.
Hagel pulled the Lightning even at 3 on his own rebound in the low slot at 7:20 of the third. He also had two assists.
Skinner gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead when he circled around Elliott in the low crease and scored off a cross-ice pass from Alex Tuch at 4:05 of the third.
Point put the Lightning up 2-1 with a power-play goal 5:05 into the second.
Mittelstadt got the equalizer at 8:34 of the second with a waist-high stick blade deflection of Owen Power’s power-play shot. Power finished with two assists.
After Paul opened the scoring at 7:07 of the first, Girgensons tied it with 3:36 left in the period.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the workload that starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had over the last three seasons that saw Tampa Bay reach the Stanley Cup title round in all of them probably doesn’t have much impact in this season’s goalie rotation.
”Vasy is a 60-game guy,” Cooper said. ”I think this year because it’s actually kind of a normal year, so the games are spread out more. Some of those COVID years it was like game, game, game, game. The one thing about Vasy is, you never have to worry about him. He just keeps himself in just impeccable shape.”
Sabres: D Ilya Lyubushkin (lower body) played after missing four games.
Sabres: Start a four-game homestand Tuesday night against Arizona.
Lightning: Host Edmonton on Tuesday night.
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