Kucherov’s goal lifts Lightning to 1-0 win over Avalanche
DENVER — Nikita Kucherov scored on a power play with 13:36 remaining, Andrei Vasilevskiy outperformed Semyon Varlamov in a goaltender showdown and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Colorado Avalanche 1-0 on Wednesday night.
Kucherov lined in a pass from Steven Stamkos for his 150th career goal. This after Kucherov nearly scored late in the second period, only to have the puck glance off a stick.
Vasilevskiy was masterful in neutralizing the high-flying Avalanche, who returned home after a 3-0-1 trip. The Lightning goaltender turned back 23 shots for his 13th NHL shutout.
Gabriel Landeskog had a goal taken off the board in the first period after Tampa Bay challenged the play and Colorado was ruled offside.
Vasilevskiy and Varlamov matched each other save for stellar save most of the contest. Varlamov blinked first when he allowed Kucherov’s goal with defenseman Tyson Barrie serving a hooking penalty.
The Avalanche pulled Varlamov with about 1:30 remaining, but couldn’t score the equalizer.
Varlamov finished with 23 saves.
Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had nine-game point streaks halted. Their streaks matched the longest to start a season since the team relocated to town in 1995-96.
The Lightning were coming off a 6-3 win over Chicago in which they set a new franchise record with 55 shots. Against Colorado, the Lightning had 24 shots.
Kucherov had a wide open net in the closing seconds of the second period with Varlamov out of position. The Lightning right winger sent a liner toward a vacant part of the net, but the puck hit off a stick and caromed wide. Kucherov glanced up in disbelief.
The Avalanche thought they had struck first when Landeskog lined in a pass from MacKinnon during a 2-on-1 break. They celebrated as Tampa Bay challenged the play. The officials disallowed the goal after ruling Tyson Jost was offside.
At the morning skate, Landeskog deflected the credit for receiving the league’s first star of the week. He had six goals during the stretch, including a hat trick.
“If the team wasn’t winning, I wouldn’t get that recognition,” Landeskog said. “It’s fun. But at the same time it’s a young season, a lot of hockey left. Just enjoy it while we can.”
NOTES: Lightning D Slater Koekkoek was a scratch. Coach Jon Cooper hopes to get him in a game during the trip. … Avalanche F J.T. Compher (concussion-like symptoms) was scheduled to see the doctor again Wednesday night. “I think he’s feeling better. But he has his good days and bad days,” coach Jared Bednar said. … F Conor Timmins (concussion-like symptoms) is “feeling a little bit better,” Bednar said.
Lightning: Continue their five-game road swing with stop No. 4 in Vegas on Friday night.
Avalanche: Welcome former Avalanche Matt Duchene and the Ottawa Senators to town on Friday.
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