Lightning journal: Nikita Kucherov ends goal drought

Published December 2 2017
Updated December 3 2017

TAMPA — Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov snapped a six-game goalless streak 27 seconds into the second period against the Sharks on Saturday on his first shot of the game.

He also scored the game’s final goal in a 5-2 Lightning win.

Kucherov has 19 goals, tying him for the league lead with the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, and he took the league lead in points from C Steven Stamkos with 38.

The pair’s recent scoring slumps — Stamkos has a goal and an assist in the past seven games; Kucherov had just three assists in the six games before Saturday — was a big reason the Lightning had lost four of six entering the day.

RELATED: Kucherov, Johnson end goal droughts in Lightning win over Sharks.

Stamkos said it’s hard to maintain the scoring pace each enjoyed through the first 20 games of the season.

"Things were going our way. We were winning. Everyone was feeling good. It might not have been realistic to think we would keep that up all season," Stamkos said after the morning skate. "But we also believe in ourselves that we can put ourselves in position to produce. … We have to get back to the simple things in playing the right way. That’s what led to a lot of (those points)."

Play to stay

Talk about a goal-a-game pace. How about C Cory Conacher?

Called up twice this season from AHL Syracuse to add a healthy forward to the lineup, Conacher has played in two games and scored in both after netting one Saturday. Conacher was recalled Friday to replace C Cedric Paquette, who was suspended for the game for boarding Bruins D Torey Krug on Wednesday.

Conacher also was recalled late last month, played at Pittsburgh, scored and was sent back to Syracuse.

RELATED: Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Saturday’s Lightning-Sharks game.

"I guess I made that impact on them early on because they gave me another call," he said.

Conacher said that Saturday he wanted to "play hard and keep it simple, play well in the d-zone and hope to create some offense." But with Paquette back for Tuesday’s game against the Islanders, Conacher’s stay could be another short one.

"I try to stay motivated and stay positive and not worry about the next day," he said. "I worry about today, and hopefully I can continue to show this organization that I want to be up here and want to contribute to this team up here. Hopefully that shows."

That’s how you celebrate

Phil Carr, the security guard who works the door to the Lightning locker room, recently celebrated his 87th birthday by jumping out of a plane. Carr, a former Marine who fought in the Korean War, has been parachuting on his birthday for 20 years. He started in 1997, when former President George W. Bush celebrated his 75th birthday by parachuting.

RELATED: Lightning’s slump a reminder season is a roller coaster.

Slap shots

Paul Kennedy, the Lightning’s game host on Fox Sports Sun, returned to Amalie Arena for his first game since his Oct. 23 surgery for prostate surgery. "He’s leading the league in hugs," said Brian Breseman, the Lightning’s director of public relations. … D Braydon Coburn (lower body) was scratched. He is listed as day to day. … D Jamie McBain, recalled Saturday from Syracuse, was scratched.

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