TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Nikita Kucherov scored twice while breaking Tampa Bay’s single-season record for points, leading the Lightning to a 3-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
Ryan McDonagh also scored for NHL-leading Tampa Bay, which has won 14 consecutive regular-season games against Detroit. Louis Domingue stopped 22 shots.
Thomas Vanek and Anthony Mantha scored for Detroit, which fell to 1-6-3 in the past 10 games. Jonathan Bernier finished with 30 saves.
Kucherov, one of the front-runners for the NHL MVP award, has 110 points through 69 games. Former No. 1 overall pick Vinny Lecavalier held the previous franchise record, finishing with 108 points when he had 52 goals and 56 assists during the 2006-07 season.
The record-setting point came on Kucherov’s 32nd goal. He was alone at the top of the crease when he got a pass from Brayden Point and flipped the puck over Bernier at 11:56 of the first period.
“Kuch 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 playoffs.”
The Lightning became the first team this season to clinch a playoff berth after Montreal lost to Anaheim late Friday. It marked the second quickest in terms of games (68) needed to clinch a playoff spot since 2005-06.
McDonagh also scored in the first on a wrist shot from the center point, helping Tampa Bay build a 2-0 lead.
The two-goal advantage held up until late in the second period when Vanek deflected a Niklas Kronwall pass past Domingue for a power-play goal with 3.1 seconds left.
Kucherov also scored on a one-timer from the right circle 13:53 into the third for his 33rd multipoint game of the season. Mantha got one back for Detroit with 56 seconds left, but Tampa Bay held on.
NOTES: D Jan Rutta made his Lightning debut after he was called up on an emergency basis on Friday. … The Lightning were without D Dan Girardi (lower body), LW Adam Erne (upper body) and D Anton Stralman (lower body), who are all listed as day to day. . Detroit C Dylan Larkin missed his third consecutive game with a neck injury. … Domingue made his first start on home ice since Dec. 10.
Lightning: At Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
Red Wings: At Florida Panthers on Sunday.