Kucherov has hat trick for Lightning in win against Sabres


BUFFALO — Nikita Kucherov scored his fourth NHL hat trick, and the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Buffalo Sabres 6-1 at KeyBank Center on Tuesday.

Steven Stamkos had a goal and two assists, and Anthony Cirelli had a goal and an assist for the Lightning (24-9-5), who are 3-0-1 in their past four games. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 17 saves for his 20th victory of the season.

Vinnie Hinostroza scored, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen allowed two goals on nine shots before leaving after the first period with a lower-body injury. Malcolm Subban made 23 saves in relief for the Sabres (10-19-6), who have lost six in a row (0-4-2).

Ondrej Palat took a pass from Victor Hedman in the slot and scored glove-side on Luukkonen to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 2:46 of the first period. Palat has five goals in a four-game goal streak.

Cirelli scored from the slot on an odd-man rush to make it 2-0 at 10:45.

Kucherov pushed it to 3-0 on the power play 27 seconds into the second period, scoring from the top of the right circle after an easy zone entry for the Lightning. He extended it to 4-0 at 10:21 moments after leaving the penalty box, tapping in a cross-ice pass from Corey Perry at the left of the net.

Alex Killorn sent a pass from behind the net to Stamkos coming into the slot to make it 5-0 at 14:04.

Hinostroza capitalized on a rebound that bounced to him at the bottom of the left circle on the power play to cut it to 5-1 at 5:31 of the third period.

Kucherov scored from the high slot at 13:57 for the 6-1 final.

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