Kucherov, Stamkos shine, lift Lightning over Hurricanes 6-4

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes right wing Jesper Fast (71) scores past Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during the second period in Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series Saturday, June 5, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each had two goals and an assist, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-4 on Saturday to open a commanding lead in their second-round playoff series.

The defending Stanley Cup champions improved to 10-0 in games following a playoff loss over the past two postseasons. They lead the Hurricanes 3-1 in the best-of-seven series heading into Game 5 on Tuesday night at Carolina.

Each team scored four goals in the second, with the Lightning turning a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead. Stamkos and Kucherov scored on the power play and Tyler Johnson also beat Petr Mrazek in the final 5:22 of the period.

Teuvo Teravainen, Jesper Fast, Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin scored in the second for the Hurricanes, who hurt themselves by taking bad penalty after bad penalty while giving the Lightning five power-play opportunities in that period alone.

Tampa Bay finished 3 of 6 on the power play, and it has scored five times with the man advantage in the last two games.

Carolina had its highest scoring game of the series, but the Hurricanes were 0 for 2 on the power play and struggled after going up 4-2 on Slavin’s goal at 12:41 of the second.

Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy weathered the Hurricanes’ scoring barrage and didn’t allow another goal the rest of the way. He finished with 21 saves.

Kucherov, who has 17 points in 10 playoff games this year, began the comeback with a power-play goal. Johnson made it 4-4 before Stamkos netted his second power-play goal of the period.

Kucherov scored off a nice pass from Ondrej Palat for a 6-4 lead just over six minutes into the final period.

Mrazek stopped just 20 of 26 shots after making his first start of this postseason and getting a 3-2 overtime win in Game 3.

SLOW STARTERS

The Hurricanes yielded the first goal for the eighth time in 10 games this postseason. Carolina went six straight games giving up the first goal until taking a 2-0 lead against the Lightning in Game 3.

The Lightning are 7-1 when they scored first this postseason, and 0-2 when they don’t.

STILL MISSING

The Hurricanes played again without center Vincent Trocheck, who was injured during Game 2 when he collided with teammate Warren Foegele and limped off the ice. Nino Niederreiter remained sidelined, too, meaning Carolina was without its second- and third-leading goal scorers from the regular season. Foegele did play Saturday after suffering an upper-body injury in a collision with Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay defenseman David Savard was back in the lineup after missing three games with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

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