BOSTON (AP) - Nikita Kucherov had his third career hat trick to lead Tampa Bay to a 6-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, snapping the Lightning’s three-game losing streak.
Jonathan Drouin had a goal and two assists, Brayden Point had a goal and an assist and Anton Stralman also scored to help the Lightning pull three points behind the Bruins for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
Peter Budaj finished with 28 saves for the Lightning to earn his 29th win of the season. Ondrej Palat had three assists, and Jake Dotchin and Victor Hedman added two each.
Riley Nash had a goal and an assist for Boston, and David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara also scored. Tuukka Rask stopped 23 shots as Boston, which won seven of the first eight games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, has now lost four straight and six of 11.
After a scoreless first period, both teams alternated scoring three times in the second with the Lightning responding to Boston goals 44 seconds, 24 seconds and 1:35 later, respectively.
Nash gave Boston a 3-2 lead with 6:42 left in the middle period, but Stralman roofed a shot over Rask’s left shoulder to tie it with 5:07 remaining.
Drouin put Tampa Bay ahead for good when his slap shot beat Rask at 4:12 of the third. Kucherov followed with two goals, including his second on the power play and an empty-netter with 1:57 remaining to cap the scoring.
Kucherov now has 16 goals and 11 assists in the last 15 games, most in the NHL since Feb. 21.
NOTES: Tampa Bay avoided a season-sweep by the Bruins. … Boston’s Patrice Bergeron has one goal in his last 12 games. … The Lightning have won four straight on the road and are 7-1-3 in their last 11. … Bruins F Brad Marchand has gone three straight without a goal but is still second overall in the NHL with 37.
Lightning: At Detroit on Friday night.
Bruins: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
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