NHL points leader Nikita Kucherov has goal and 2 assists, Lightning beat Canadiens 7-4


Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens: Game Highlights

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens: Game Highlights

MONTREAL -- — NHL points leader Nikita Kucherov scored his 43rd goal of the season and had two assists, Steven Stamkos and Nicholas Paul each scored twice and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 7-4 on Thursday night.

Holding the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Lightning are 10-1-1 in their last 12 games and 43-26-7 overall.

“This was a solid effort in a back-to-back situation,” said Stamkos, pointing to a 4-1 victory in Toronto the night before. “Except for a bit of a letdown in the third period we were on top of them."

Matt Tomkins, a 29-year-old making only his fourth NHL start and the first since Nov. 7, made 26 saves for the victory. He has a 2-2-0 record, with both of his wins coming against the Canadiens in Montreal.

“He obviously likes playing in this building,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “When we lost (Andrei) Vasilevskiy for 25 games at the beginning on the season, people expected us to go out and get a goalie, but we had faith in Tommy and (Jonas Johasnsson)."

Michael Eyssimont and Brandon Hagel also scored for Tampa Bay.

Joel Armia scored twice for Montreal. Juraj Slafkovsky and Cole Caufied added goals, and Cayden Primeau made 28 saves.

The Canadiens played most of the game with five defensemen. Kaiden Guhle left with an upper-body injury early in the first period after he was driven into the end boards by a hard check from Kucherov. There was no penalty on the play.

Hagel left the game with seven minutes remaining after an open-ice collision with teammate Stamkos.

Stamkos snapped a 2-2 tie with his first goal of the night at 7:58 of the second period and Paul scored his second goal of the game 1:14 later.

Stamkos has 34 goals this season.


Lightning: At Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Canadiens: Host Toronto on Saturday night.


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