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Big boys lead the way as Lightning cruises past Red Wings

TAMPA — The camouflage jersey, given to the Lightning player of the game, hung Thursday in the stall of captain Steven Stamkos.

But the prize easily could have gone to Nikita Kucherov, who had a dazzling four-point performance (three assists) in a 4-1 victory over the Red Wings at Amalie Arena. Victor Hedman had a case, too, with three assists in a monster performance in 23:45 of playing time.

RELATED: Highlights from the Lightning's win over the Red Wings.

And that was one of the most encouraging parts of the win. It was one of the Lightning's more complete recent performances, and the big boys led the way.

The Lightning is 11-0-1 this season when Stamkos and Kucherov score. Kucherov had a game-high 14 shot attempts.

"There are certain times in a season when you need your top players to rise to the occasion," Stamkos said. "And (Thursday) was a good example of that."

Stamkos gave the Lightning lead for good four minutes into the game with the first of his two goals. Tampa Bay snapped a two-game losing streak with its 11th consecutive regular-season victory over the Red Wings.

The Lightning came out with more jump, and coach Jon Cooper said what he was most proud of was that it had a shutdown third period.

"A huge win for us," Kucherov said.

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had allowed four or more goals in eight of his previous 13 starts, had a Vezina Trophy-caliber night with 38 saves. Eighteen came in the first period.

Was this game perfect? No. The Lightning at times still had puck-management issues and turnovers. But this was a solid step in the right direction, increasing Tampa Bay's Atlantic Division lead to three points over Boston.

Stamkos: "That was a lot more characteristic of the way we know we can play."

Lightning 2 1 1 4
Red Wings 0 1 0 1
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 22 (Kucherov, Hedman), 3:55. 2, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 31 (Hedman, Namestnikov), 7:05 (pp). Penalties—Stamkos, TB, (high sticking), 1:25; Mantha, DET, (holding), 5:58; Coburn, TB, (tripping), 18:43. Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 23 (Kucherov, Hedman), 18:08 (pp). 4, Detroit, Tatar 15 (Bertuzzi, Kronwall), 19:29 (pp). Penalties—DeKeyser, DET, (holding), 13:23; Mantha, DET, (interference), 16:43; Namestnikov, TB, (slashing), 18:36. Third Period—5, Tampa Bay, Killorn 11 (Kucherov, Point), 1:35. Penalties—Nielsen, DET, (cross checking), 19:32. Shots on Goal—Detroit 17-11-11—39. Tampa Bay 12-13-7—32. Power-play opportunities—Detroit 1 of 3; Tampa Bay 2 of 4. Goalies—Detroit, Howard 16-18-6 (32 shots-28 saves). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 34-11-2 (39-38). A—19,092 (19,092). T—2:31. Referees—Frederick L'Ecuyer, Brad Watson. Linesmen—Brad Kovachik, Brian Murphy.

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