Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning forwards Kucherov, Namestnikov save Russia at World Cup of Hockey

TORONTO — Two Lightning forwards helped save Russia from an embarrassing early exit in the World Cup of Hockey.

RW Nikita Kucherov and C Vladislav Namestnikov scored 50 seconds apart midway through the second period Monday, turning a one-goal deficit into a lead in a thrilling 4-3 victory over North America.

"The momentum (swung) right there," Namestnikov said.

Russia went up 4-1 before holding on, including killing off a two-minute 5-on-3 in the third and a final-minute flurry.

For Namestnikov, a healthy scratch in Sunday's loss to Sweden, and Kucherov, it was their first points of the tournament.

"It was great," Namestnikov said. "It was my first one for the national team, so nice to get it in."

Short bench: Lightning RW Jonathan Drouin (North America) played just 9 minutes, 59 seconds Monday as coach Todd McLellan used a short bench.

Drouin, who scored a goal in Sunday's tournament debut, played less than all but Dylan Larkin (5:33).

"When you give up 81 attempts on goal and you're an offensive guy, you've got to find a way to get the puck to the net and somehow, at least, make an attempt at shooting and Jonny had a tough night in that situation," McLellan said. "…Unfortunately, when you're down, that happens. And he'll be better next game."

Backup bishop: G Ben Bishop has played just two exhibition periods for Team USA in the World Cup, and will likely remain the backup tonight as the Americans face elimination against host and favorite Canada.

But Bishop, 29, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist, understands the situation, with two-time Stanley Cup winner and former Olympian Jonathan Quick (Kings) the No. 1.

"(Quick) is one of the best in the world," Bishop said. "So you're not going to argue with anything like that."

Bishop is also encouraged with how his ankle has held up after spraining ligaments in the Eastern Conference final.

"I'm ready to go," he said.

Czech out: Lightning LW Ondrej Palat and D Andrej Sustr are close to coming home, with the Czech Republic (0-2) all but eliminated from group play after a 3-2 overtime loss Monday to Team Europe. Sustr played 20 minutes, nine seconds; Palat was third on team with four shots.

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