TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov scored twice to set the record for most points in a season by a player in Tampa Bay Lightning history in a 3-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings at Amalie Arena on Saturday.
“It’s special for me and my family, definitely,” Kucherov said. “I don’t think many people believed in me and I’m just trying to keep (proving) them wrong.”
Kucherov has 110 points (33 goals, 77 assists) in 69 games, passing the previous record of 108 set by Vincent Lecavalier in 2006-07.
“[Kucherov] is an unbelievable player,” Lecavalier said in a statement. “He is so dominant and talented that it is no wonder he broke my Lightning record for most points in a season. I’d like to personally congratulate Nikita for the accomplishment and wish him and the team further success as they approach the [Stanley Cup Playoffs].”
Ryan McDonagh scored for the Lightning (52-13-4), who have won 13 of their past 15 games and lead the Boston Bruins by 15 points for first place in the Eastern Conference. Louis Domingue made 22 saves and is 12-1-0 in his past 13 starts.
Thomas Vanek and Anthony Mantha scored, and Jonathan Bernier made 30 saves for the Red Wings (24-34-10), who are 1-6-3 in their past ten games.
Detroit has lost 14 consecutive regular-season games (0-12-2) to Tampa Bay, with its last win coming Nov. 3, 2015.
“It’s really frustrating,” Mantha said. “I think it started, when did it start? … It’s pretty much the whole time I’ve been here.
“I mean it [stinks] that we can’t win against these guys. I don’t know what it is. I mean, [Bernier] played an unbelievable game tonight. He probably saved four or five goals against and we couldn’t build anything offensively and didn’t grind in their zone like we wanted to, and it’s just the opposite that happened.”
McDonagh gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead at 3:06 of the first period, scoring on a shot from the point through traffic.
“We kept the chances against low and found a way to create some offense in the zone, off the rush and a lot of different fashions,” McDonagh said. “We’ll get rewarded if we keep up with those looks and keep playing that same way.”
Kucherov set the Lightning record at 11:56 to make it 2-0 on a one-timer from the slot off a pass from Brayden Point from behind the net.
Vanek cut it to 2-1 at 19:56 of the second period with a redirection of Niklas Kronwall‘s point shot on the power play.
Steven Stamkos appeared to score for the Lightning at 9:10 of the third period, but Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill challenged the play for offside, and the call was reversed after a video review.
“You know, I thought a lot of stretches of the game we didn’t play good enough, you know executing in our own zone,” Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader said. “They come hard on the forecheck and I thought where we had chances to get pucks out or skate ourselves we didn’t do a good enough job of that. [Bernier] made some great saves and, you know, we didn’t make it hard enough on Domingue tonight.”
Kucherov extended the lead to 3-1 at 13:53 of the third on a one-timer from along the right wall, and Mantha cut it to 3-2 at 19:04 on a shot from the right point after Detroit pulled Bernier for an extra skater.
“We battled hard,” Bernier said. “I wish I had that third goal back to make it just a one-goal game and who knows, we had 6-on-5 at the end.”
They said it
“We didn’t rise to the occasion tonight, not even close. Too many guys weren’t skating. You’ve got to skate yourself out of pressure, you’ve got to skate yourself to get open. You’ve got to want the puck, you’ve got to get it in and you’ve got to pressure on the forecheck. We didn’t do a good enough job.” — Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill
“He passed an icon in [Lecavalier]. There is no doubt it means something. Now, if you are going to sit here and say single-season record or Stanley Cup, he’s clearly grabbing the Stanley Cup. But in the regular season, there are individual awards and there’s accolades like he did tonight, but usually when that happens, it’s because the team is having success.” — Lightning coach Jon Cooper on Nikita Kucherov
Need to know
Domingue made his first start at home since Dec. 10, 2018. … Mantha has nine points (three goals, six assists) in the past eight games. … Kronwall had two assists. … Defenseman Jan Rutta, who was acquired by Tampa Bay in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 11, had two shots in 9:11 of ice time in his Lightning debut.
Red Wings: At the Florida Panthers on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-D, NHL.TV)
Lightning: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, TVAS, SNO, SUN, NHL.TV)