Game 10 recap: Kucherov, Johnson pace Lightning homecoming win over Arizona

Nikita Kucherov recorded his first NHL career hat trick and Tyler Johnson contributed four assists as the Lightning make a triumphant return to Tampa Bay in dominating the Arizona Coyotes 7-3 Tuesday night.

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Arizona Coyotes 7-3 in front of an announced crowd of 17,511 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday night.

Nikita Kucherov notched a hat trick, the first of his NHL career and Tyler Johnson chipped in with four assists as the Lightning wiped the slate clean after their last game, a loss at Minnesota on Saturday, which was something of a downer ending to a pretty successful road trip,

"It's funny because we talked about the first game coming back after a long road trip, everyone's been telling me it's always a tough game, tough game, tough game. But we kept pounding it to the guys; don't fall into this trap. I think the extra day off helped. I think it would have been harder if we had played, off, played, but we got those two days off. We were a tired group, so it was a bit of re-focus time. Got energized by the crowd and I thought the first period set the tone of the game. Every line was flying. It was big. It was good." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper

Kucherov opened the scoring with his first goal of the night at 7:46 of the first, deflecting a shot from Radko Gudas taken from just inside the blue line. Johnson was credited with the secondary assist.

The Lightning doubled the lead at 12:18 when Valtteri Filppula scored in close. He fed Steven Stamkos whose rebound was directed by Alex Killorn back to Filppula who cashed in on the second effort..

The Lightning led 2-0 after one period, a period that saw them outshoot Arizona 12-3.

Kucherov's second goal came at 3:20 of the second period, scoring on the backhand after an initial shot from Johnson produced a long rebound. Ondrej Palat registered the secondary assist on the play.

Tampa Bay appeared to have padded their lead when it appeared that Radko Gudas had scored at 11:27 but the goal was immediately waved off, a call that was upheld by the NHL office in Toronto:

"At 11:27 of the second period in the Coyotes/Lightning game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play at the Arizona goal. The referee informed the Situation Room that he was in the process of blowing his whistle to stop play before the puck crossed the Coyotes goal line. According to Rule 78.5, apparent goals shall be disallowed 'when Referee deems the play has been stopped, even if he had not physically had the opportunity to stop play by blowing his whistle.' Therefore the referee's call on the ice stands - no goal Tampa Bay."

Instead of 4-0, it was soon 3-1 when Arizona's Shane Doan scored on assists from Michael Stone and Antoine Vermette at 14:07.

The Bolts built the lead back to three at 17:32, thanks to a giveaway from the Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson who put the puck on Brian Boyle's right in front of the Arizona net, allowing Boyle to score unassisted.

Just over a minute later at 18:52, Arizona answered back, with Martin Erat banking the puck off of Lightning goalie Ben Bishop's backside. He was assisted by Martin Hanzal and former Bolt (on paper, for a few minutes anyway) Sam Gagner.

The Lightning held a 4-2 lead after two.

Kucherov capped (HA!) off the hat trick at 8:23 of the third, scoring on a wrist shot and getting assistance from Johnson and Eric Brewer.

"It was my first time when I saw that, when I did the hat trick and the fans throw their hats on the ice. It was amazing!" - Kucherov

Boyle scored his second goal of the game at 9:26, thanks to helpers from J.T. Brown and Anton Stralman,

"He's (Brown) buzzing. We were getting in on the forcheck. We had two goals and created a couple other chances. He's been huge. We've been around the net a lot in the past few games. It's nice to put a few in." - Boyle

After that, Arizona starting goaltender, ex-Bolt Mike Smith was replaced by Devan Dubnyk. Smith stopped 27 of the 33 shots he faced in his 49:26 on the ice while Dubnyk would go on to stop one of two during the remaining 10:34. On the other end, Bishop turned away 22 of 25 on the night.

Yet another former Bolt got on the scoresheet when B.J. Crombeen scored at 12:43. Adding assistance on the play was Joe Vitale and Ekman-Larsson.

Matt Carle finished the scoring at 18:15, converting a snapshot on the power play. Johnson got his fourth assist on the play and Andrej Sustr was credited with the secondary.

The Lightning are in action again on Thursday night when they'll host the Philadelphia Flyers.

Game notes:

  • Word came in early during the second period that the legendary Gordie Howe had suffered a serious stroke on Sunday and was recovering at his daughter's home in Texas. Our thoughts and very best wishes are with him, his family, the Detroit Red Wings organization and their fans.
  • 13 different Lightning players scored points tonight.
  • The Lightning had one penalty on the night, a five-minute major to Cedric Paquette and were never shorthanded, while going 1 for 3 on the power play
  • Tonight's assistant captains were Palat and Filppula.
  • The Lightning have only given up one power play goal at home so far this season.
  • The Lightning observed "Hockey Fights Cancer" during tonight's game. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher served as "social media captain". The team will auction off the purple jersey he wore and autographed during tonight's game with the proceeds going to cancer research.
  • The Lightning honored Mary Ann Massolio as the fifth Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Massolio, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the 1Voice Foundation and Quantum Leap Farm. Massolio has exhibited a relentless effort to help kids and bereaved families affected by cancer. She began working in the field of pediatric oncology nearly 25 years ago. A few years after entering the field, Massolio's youngest son, Jay, was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and shortly after lost his battle with cancer. Wanting to honor Jay's fight and others facing similar tragedy, Massolio decided to devote her life to the needs of cancer families.Tonight's Lightning Community Hero has created many collaborative partnerships to assist the various needs of families affected by cancer including: the brain tumor support group (Shriner's Hospital); equine therapy group (Quantum Leap Farm); bereaved family support group (CSA Palm Harbor, Lifepath Hospice, Suncoast Hospice) private classroom experiences at Florida Aquarium (Krewe of Nautilus); Parents' Day Off (Quantam Leap Farm, Florida Aquarium); cancer research (USF); legislative coalition (Alliance for Childhood Cancer), and many more. Massolio currently serves as Executive Director of 1Voice Foundation which provides educational, psychological and financial resources through family support groups and provides funding for pediatric cancer research at the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida.