Kucherov's 2nd-period hat trick powers Lightning past Senators
Tampa Bay keeps fading playoff hopes alive
Nikita Kucherov gave the trade-depleted Tampa Bay Lightning a much-needed lift.
Kucherov scored three power-play goals in the second period and the Tampa Bay Lightning kept their fading playoff hopes alive with a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.
Kucherov had the second hat trick of his career and added an assist in the third period. Jonathan Drouin assisted all three of his goals and Victor Hedman assisted on two.
A day after trading goaltender Ben Bishop to Los Angeles and just hours after trading forward Brian Boyle to Toronto, the Lightning improved to 6-1-2 over their past nine games.
"Everybody understands [the trade deadline] is just part of the season," Kucherov said.
"Sometimes you go through it, but we have to continue to play the game. We have a general manger to take care of that stuff. Our job is just to play hockey."
The Senators, who won at Florida on Sunday night, are 6-6 over their past 12 games.
Ottawa scored with a two-man advantage just 6:26 into the game, Kyle Turris converting his 22nd goal of the season with assists from Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman.
"We had chances but our power plays have been terrible the last four or five games," Senators forward Mark Stone said. "It hasn't created us any momentum, it hasn't gotten us very much. Nice to get one on the 5-on-3, but you're supposed to score on those."
Vasilevskiy survives rough start
Playing in his first game as a No. 1 goalie in the wake of the Bishop trade, Andrei Vasilevskiy survived a rough start to end a five-game losing streak (0-2-3).
"I was a little disappointed with how we came out," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "I don't know if the events of today hurt our mindset or what happened, but Vasilevskiy was outstanding."
Brayden Point tied it for the Lightning with an unassisted goal early in the second period. The game changed abruptly at 5:16 when Ottawa's Mark Borowiecki and Tampa Bay's Braydon Coburn drew five-minute fighting penalties and the Senators' Tom Pyatt was called for hooking.
Kucherov scored his first goal of the game just 21 seconds later, marking the third straight game in which he has scored. He made it 3-1 at 10:26 of the period, and 4-1 with his 26th goal of the season with just 13.5 seconds remaining in the period.
Coburn scored the Lightning's final goal midway through the third period.
"We're trying to get in [the playoffs]," Cooper said. "You've got to beat the teams that are ahead of you. Those are "four-point games", and this was one of them tonight."