Lightning top Avs in OT for franchise-best 11th straight win

DENVER (AP) Things are going so well for the Tampa Bay Lightning that the they're starting to judge the quality of their wins.

''I don't know. I don't think we played well today ... We have to improve a lot in our game because we have a lot of good teams ahead of us. I don't think we had a good effort today,'' Nikita Kucherov said after stealing the puck from Nathan MacKinnon and scoring in overtime for a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night.

Kucherov's game-winner 3:03 into overtime sent the Lightning to a franchise-record 11th straight win and suddenly slumping Colorado to its third straight loss.

''Their best player gets a breakaway and I wasn't able to stop it,'' Colorado goaltender Pavel Francouz said. ''Their best player gets the puck on the blue line, he was racing with Nathan. He kind of opened me up a little bit and he shot it 5-hole.''

Kucherov was disappointed in the Bolts' puck possession but said, ''We had a great goalie today,'' praising the play of Curtis McElhinney. ''He had a heck of a game getting hit but he stuck with it. He made some huge saves for us.''

The game between two of the league's top teams had the feel of a playoff showdown complete with momentum swings, hard hits and short tempers.

''It's not a team we play often, but when you have a good team like that and both teams want to win, it's going to boil over,'' said Cameron Gaunce, who scored one of Tampa Bay's three goals in the second period.

Gaunce scored 16 seconds after Alex Killorn's goal and Tampa Bay built a 3-1 lead before Colorado came back to force overtime despite losing forward Mikko Rantanen to a left shoulder injury - ''He'll be out weeks,'' Avs coach Jared Bednar said.

Steven Stamkos also had a goal for Tampa Bay in the second period that erased a 1-0 deficit, and McElhinney stopped 24 shots despite getting bowled over by Colorado's J.T. Compher midway through the third period, sparking the first of two brawls in a tense ending.

McElhinney crumpled awkwardly and lay motionless for a moment before rising slowly. He was visited by a trainer but stayed in the game. Compher was called for interference.

McElhinney said he was fine physically and held no grudges.

''Honestly, I was kind of tied up, my arms were folded up under me. It wasn't a hit to the head or anything,'' he said. ''It's a good hockey play. I like it when guys drive to the net and I like the response from our team standing up for me. It's nice to see. It's hard hockey play on their part and I don't have anything against that.''

Another scuffle broke out after MacKinnon leveled Ondrej Palat cleanly in front of Tampa Bay's bench.

''I like the way that we hung in there. Good penalty kill at the end. In overtime it comes down to a key save here and there and a big-time play from one of our big players,'' McElhinney said.

The Avalanche lost Rantanen when he was tripped into the boards at full-speed by Erik Cernak in the second period. Rantanen immediately left the ice and headed inside before the Bolts killed the power play.

Francouz stopped the first 11 shots he faced starting in place of Philipp Grubauer, who suffered a lower body injury in the Avs' 3-1 loss to the Kings in the NHL Stadium Series at the Air Force Academy on Saturday night.

Then Palat sent a pass through the slot to Killorn as he skated toward the crease, and Killorn redirected the puck into an open net at 4:54. Gaunce scored his first goal since March 24, 2017, just 16 seconds later with a shot from the point that beat Francouz on the short side.

Stamkos made it 3-1 when he came from behind the net and tapped in the loose puck sitting behind Francouz in the crease.

Colorado pulled to 3-2 on MacKinnon's goal with 94 seconds left in the second period and the Avs tied it up when Cale Makar's shot deflected off Valeri Nichushkin with 12:43 left in the third.

The Avs are now without Grubauer and three key forwards - Rantanen, Matt Calvert and Nazem Kadri - for several weeks.

''Other guys have to step up,'' Bednar said. ''It's a great opportunity. We have to carve out wins like we did earlier in the year. It's going to be tougher and tougher but hopefully we can get those guys healthy and back to rejoin our team as soon as possible.''

Tampa Bay's 11th straight victory - the longest winning streak in the NHL this season - broke the franchise mark of 10 set last season and tied earlier this season. Tampa Bay is just the second NHL franchise to record a pair of double-digit winning streaks a single season, joining the Boston Bruins, who did it in 1929-30 and 1970-71.

''It's pretty surreal this run we've been on the last couple of months,'' McElhinney said. ''This 11-game run has been a lot of fun. It's special, it seems like we're going about our business and it's not really so much about the streak.''

The key to it all?

''Scoring more goals than the other team,'' Gaunce said.

NOTES: The Avs are the highest-scoring team in the league, averaging 3.56 goals per game, and the Lightning are second at 3.54 goals per game. ... Tampa Bay has allowed three or fewer goals in 22 consecutive games, going 19-2-1 over that stretch. The Bolts are surrendering a league-low 1.71 goals per game in 2020.

UP NEXT

Lightning: Play at Vegas on Thursday night.

Avalanche: Host the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.

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Copyright 2020 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

123OTT
TB40-15-5
03014
COL33-18-7
11103
STARS OF THE GAME
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
E. Cernak D00210/0221:386
A. Cirelli C01107/7219:322
C. Gaunce D10020/0212:112
Y. Gourde RW00020/1211:160
V. Hedman D00210/0029:511
T. Johnson RW00002/4013:480
A. Killorn LW10130/1017:562
N. Kucherov RW10140/0019:520
P. Maroon LW00000/0212:231
O. Palat LW01020/0015:041
C. Paquette C00-102/5014:562
B. Point C01100/1019:471
L. Schenn D00130/0013:115
M. Sergachev D00-210/0224:522
K. Shattenkirk D01-120/0019:404
S. Stamkos LW10147/10020:524
M. Stephens C00114/6008:070
C. Verhaeghe LW00110/0006:520
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
P. Bellemare C00-228/3011:291
A. Burakovsky RW10020/0024:281
I. Cole D00-110/0019:330
J. Compher RW00025/3217:130
J. Donskoi RW00020/0017:291
S. Girard D00-120/0020:530
R. Graves D00010/0219:222
E. Johnson D01000/0017:403
T. Jost C00003/2012:431
V. Kamenev C00000/1011:021
G. Landeskog LW022310/4024:160
N. MacKinnon C11057/6027:131
C. Makar D01-120/0025:561
V. Nichushkin LW10010/0016:565
M. Nieto LW00-320/0013:160
M. Rantanen RW01-112/3008:170
T. Tynan RW00000/0007:200
N. Zadorov D00-110/0212:030
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
C. McElhinney (W)273240.88963:03
GOALIESSA
C. McElhinney (W)27
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
P. Francouz (L)274230.85263:03
GOALIESSA
P. Francouz (L)27
GOAL Nikita Kucherov (Wrist shot)
TB:GoalsShots
COL:GoalsShots
Full Play By Play
GOALS
  • OVERTIME
    • TB
      03:03GOAL Nikita Kucherov (Wrist shot)
  • 3RD PERIOD
    • COL
      12:43GOAL Valeri Nichushkin (Tip-in shot), Assists: Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog
  • 2ND PERIOD
    • COL
      18:26GOAL Nathan MacKinnon (Wrist shot), Assists: Gabriel Landeskog and Erik Johnson
    • TB
      13:43GOAL Steven Stamkos (Backhand shot), Assists: Brayden Point and Kevin Shattenkirk
    • TB
      05:10GOAL Cameron Gaunce (Slap shot)
    • TB
      04:54GOAL Alex Killorn (Snap shot), Assists: Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli
  • 1ST PERIOD
    • COL
      04:49(PP) GOAL Andre Burakovsky (Wrist shot), Assists: Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon
PENALTIES
    • 3RD PERIOD
      • TB
        14:30Anthony Cirelli penalty Cross Checking - 2 min.
      • TB
        10:29Cameron Gaunce penalty Holding - 2 min.
      • TB
        08:51Mikhail Sergachev penalty Roughing - 2 min.
      • TB
        08:51Pat Maroon penalty Roughing - 2 min.
      • COL
        08:51Nikita Zadorov penalty Roughing - 2 min.
      • COL
        08:51J.T. Compher penalty Interference with Goaltender - 2 min.
    • 2ND PERIOD
      • TB
        07:18Erik Cernak penalty Tripping - 2 min.
    • 1ST PERIOD
      • COL
        19:01Ryan Graves penalty Interference with Goaltender - 2 min.
      • TB
        03:28Yanni Gourde penalty Hooking - 2 min.
    TEAM STATS
    TB
    COL
    Shots on Goal2727
    Goals in Power Play01
    Faceoff Wins2235
    Penalties63
    Major Penalties00
    Minor Penalties63
    Misconducts00
    TEAM STATS
    TB
    Shots on Goal27
    Goals in Power Play0
    Faceoff Wins22
    Penalties6
    Major Penalties0
    Minor Penalties6
    Misconducts0
    123OTT
    TB40-15-5
    03014
    COL33-18-7
    11103
    STARS OF THE GAME
    14.8 %SHOT %11.1 %
    0.889 %SAVE %0.852 %
    SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
    E. Cernak D00210/0221:386
    A. Cirelli C01107/7219:322
    C. Gaunce D10020/0212:112
    Y. Gourde RW00020/1211:160
    V. Hedman D00210/0029:511
    T. Johnson RW00002/4013:480
    A. Killorn LW10130/1017:562
    N. Kucherov RW10140/0019:520
    P. Maroon LW00000/0212:231
    O. Palat LW01020/0015:041
    C. Paquette C00-102/5014:562
    B. Point C01100/1019:471
    L. Schenn D00130/0013:115
    M. Sergachev D00-210/0224:522
    K. Shattenkirk D01-120/0019:404
    S. Stamkos LW10147/10020:524
    M. Stephens C00114/6008:070
    C. Verhaeghe LW00110/0006:520
    SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
    P. Bellemare C00-228/3011:291
    A. Burakovsky RW10020/0024:281
    I. Cole D00-110/0019:330
    J. Compher RW00025/3217:130
    J. Donskoi RW00020/0017:291
    S. Girard D00-120/0020:530
    R. Graves D00010/0219:222
    E. Johnson D01000/0017:403
    T. Jost C00003/2012:431
    V. Kamenev C00000/1011:021
    G. Landeskog LW022310/4024:160
    N. MacKinnon C11057/6027:131
    C. Makar D01-120/0025:561
    V. Nichushkin LW10010/0016:565
    M. Nieto LW00-320/0013:160
    M. Rantanen RW01-112/3008:170
    T. Tynan RW00000/0007:200
    N. Zadorov D00-110/0212:030
    GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
    C. McElhinney (W)273240.88963:03
    GOALIESSA
    C. McElhinney (W)27
    GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
    P. Francouz (L)274230.85263:03
    GOALIESSA
    P. Francouz (L)27
    STARS OF THE GAME
    123OTT
    TB40-15-5
    03014
    COL33-18-7
    11103
    SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
    E. Cernak D00210/0221:386
    A. Cirelli C01107/7219:322
    C. Gaunce D10020/0212:112
    Y. Gourde RW00020/1211:160
    V. Hedman D00210/0029:511
    T. Johnson RW00002/4013:480
    A. Killorn LW10130/1017:562
    N. Kucherov RW10140/0019:520
    P. Maroon LW00000/0212:231
    O. Palat LW01020/0015:041
    C. Paquette C00-102/5014:562
    B. Point C01100/1019:471
    L. Schenn D00130/0013:115
    M. Sergachev D00-210/0224:522
    K. Shattenkirk D01-120/0019:404
    S. Stamkos LW10147/10020:524
    M. Stephens C00114/6008:070
    C. Verhaeghe LW00110/0006:520
    Total4402722/3512-33
    SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
    P. Bellemare C00-228/3011:291
    A. Burakovsky RW10020/0024:281
    I. Cole D00-110/0019:330
    J. Compher RW00025/3217:130
    J. Donskoi RW00020/0017:291
    S. Girard D00-120/0020:530
    R. Graves D00010/0219:222
    E. Johnson D01000/0017:403
    T. Jost C00003/2012:431
    V. Kamenev C00000/1011:021
    G. Landeskog LW022310/4024:160
    N. MacKinnon C11057/6027:131
    C. Makar D01-120/0025:561
    V. Nichushkin LW10010/0016:565
    M. Nieto LW00-320/0013:160
    M. Rantanen RW01-112/3008:170
    T. Tynan RW00000/0007:200
    N. Zadorov D00-110/0212:030
    Total3602735/226-17
    GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
    C. McElhinney (W)273240.88963:03
    GOALIESSA
    C. McElhinney (W)27
    GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
    P. Francouz (L)274230.85263:03
    GOALIESSA
    P. Francouz (L)27
    GOALS
    • OVERTIME
    • 3RD PERIOD
    • 2ND PERIOD
    • 1ST PERIOD
    PENALTIES
      • 3RD PERIOD
      • 2ND PERIOD
      • 1ST PERIOD
      • OVERTIME
      • 3RD PERIOD
      • 2ND PERIOD
      • 1ST PERIOD

      123OTT
      TB40-15-5
      03014
      COL33-18-7
      11103
      TEAM STATS
      3.80
      GF AVG
      2.84
      GA AVG
      .76
      Power Play
      3.98
      GF AVG
      3.12
      GA AVG
      .75
      Power Play
      All times are US/Eastern.