Kucherov fastest to 100 since Lemieux, Lightning beat Sabres
By ERIK ERLENDSSON
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Nikita Kucherov became the fastest player to 100 points in a season since Mario Lemieux, and he and Steven Stamkos scored in the shootout to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Thursday night.
Kucherov became the league's first 100-point player this season with his 30th goal. He got there in 62 games, one more than it took Lemieux in 1996-97.
Andrei Vasilevskiy had 29 saves and stopped both shootout attempts he faced. The Lightning have won eight straight and earned points in 12 in a row (10-0-2).
Rasmus Dahlin scored for Buffalo, and Carter Hutton stopped 39 shots.
Kucherov is the first player in Lightning franchise history to record multiple 100-point seasons and is the seventh player in the past 20 years with back-to-back such campaigns.
The 25-year-old Kucherov is also the fourth Russian-born player to record consecutive 100-point seasons in NHL history, joining Pavel Bure, Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin.
Buffalo opened the scoring late in the first period when Dahlin sent a shot from the far left point that deflected in off the shin pad of Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh at 18:13.
The Lightning tied it midway through the second when Tyler Johnson fed a pass on a 2-on-1 to Kucherov for a sweeping one-timer at 11:10.
Notes: Lightning D Victor Hedman returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday's game at Philadelphia with a lower-body injury. ... Buffalo G Linus Ullmark was originally scheduled to start, but the team said he suffered a minor injury during the morning skate. He was available to dress as the backup. ... Tampa Bay allowed the opening goal of the game for the first time in seven games. ... Buffalo D Matt Hunwick returned after missing one game with lower-body injury. ... Kucherov has four consecutive 30-goal seasons. ... The Lightning have allowed two-or-fewer goals in five consecutive games.
Lightning: Host Los Angeles on Monday.
Sabres: Host Washington on Saturday.
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