Tue, Jan 24, 2023 11:09 PM
By JOHN KREISER, Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Steven Stamkos scored the tiebreaking goal with 5:38 remaining and the Tampa Bay Lightning won their 10th consecutive home game by defeating the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Stamkos extended his goal streak to four games and broke a 2-all tie when his close-in shot hit the post, deflected off Wild forward Ryan Hartman and slid past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
“I tried coming back to help and it went off my shoulder,” Hartman said.
It wasn’t the most picturesque of Stamkos’ 505 career goals, but he’ll take it.
“For all the good plays that don’t go in, you’re rewarded with one like that,” Stamkos said.
Nikita Kucherov scored into an empty net with 16.4 seconds left, sealing Minnesota's third straight loss.
“That was big boy hockey,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of the third period, which included a bevy of scoring chances for each team. “We needed our big boys to show up — it was 2-2 with five minutes to go, and we made plays. Stammer has that kind of timing. That’s why Stammer is Stammer.”
Before the game, the Lightning honored Stamkos for scoring his 500th NHL goal, a feat he accomplished as part of a hat trick in Tampa Bay’s 5-2 road win against the Vancouver Canucks last week.
“It was great to be at home and celebrate that,” the Lightning captain said. “It’s one of those moments when you allow yourself to sit back a little bit and enjoy the video, some of the fresh-faced goals and the teammates who made those plays. It was pretty special.”
Tampa Bay’s Corey Perry scored twice in the second period on deflections of shots by Ross Colton. Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 35 saves and earned his 250th NHL win, all with the Lightning.
Tampa Bay ended a two-game slide and moved within one victory of matching the longest home winning streak in franchise history, set in 2019-20.
Joel Eriksson Ek scored shorthanded and assisted on Kirill Kaprizov’s power-play goal for Minnesota. Fleury made 33 saves.
“It was disappointing. I thought the guys battled hard,” Fleury said. “We played a pretty good game. They’re a good team and we hung around with them.”
Eriksson Ek opened the scoring 3:43 into the second period with the Wild’s eighth short-handed goal of the season. He outraced everyone to a clearing pass by teammate Jake Middleton, deked Vasilevskiy and scored his 17th goal of the season.
Tampa Bay tied it at 9:44 on Perry’s seventh goal.
Kaprizov scored his team-high 27th of the season at 11:42 to put Minnesota ahead 2-1, but Perry’s power-play deflection past Fleury at 18:05 evened it again.
The Wild had the best chance in a scoreless first period, but Vasilevskiy stopped Hartman on a 2-on-1 break with 40 seconds remaining.
Minnesota was 7-0-1 in its previous eight games against the Lightning. Prior to this one, Tampa Bay’s last regulation win against the Wild was 3-0 at Amalie Arena on Dec. 23, 2017.
Fleury played in his 968th NHL game. He is three behind Terry Sawchuk for fourth all-time among goalies. Fleury's 534 wins rank third, 17 behind Patrick Roy for second place.
Wild: Home against Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Lightning: Home against Boston on Thursday night.
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