TAMPA — The Lightning and Kings started with a flurry of goals and ended in not only a shootout, but with extra rounds.
Steven Stamkos scored in the fourth round of the shootout, off the crossbar and in, and Andrei Vasilevskiy followed with a save on Dustin Brown to give the Lightning a 4-3 win Tuesday.
Brayden Point, who was scoreless on his last seven shootout attempts dating to last season, and Nikolai Prokhorkin scored in the original three rounds, forcing the extra shooters.
As of Tuesday morning, only three teams in the league had played a single shootout this season. The Lightning and the Kings were two of them — the Kings lost to Pittsburgh on Dec. 14 and the Lightning beat Boston on Oct. 17. It had been so long that coach Jon Cooper felt weird going into the shootout.
The Lightning have Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov to thank for even getting them there.
They trailed by one, had pulled Vasilevskiy and had a faceoff in the offensive zone with 1:18 to play. Cirelli took the faceoff, fending off Jeff Carter even as the two went to the ice with Carter on top.
Cirelli somehow managed to flip the puck directly to Kucherov in the high slot, even as he ended up facing away from Kucherov, toward the wall by the time the puck got there. He called it lucky.
Kucherov took a very Kucherov shot, around Adrian Kempe and beat Jonathan Quick top shelf, tying the score with 1:15 to go.
“A big time shot by Kuch,” Cooper summed up. “You’re staring zero points in the face and you end up coming away with two. You have to take that and run.”
The game had an odd rhythm, starting with four combined goals in seven minutes, then going without any for almost two periods worth of hockey.
The Kings took an early two-goal lead, but the Lightning quickly responded with two goals of their own to tie it.
“I think both teams knew once it went 2-2 that it would be a much tighter game,” Kevin Shattenkirk said. “They had a little letdown for a few minutes and we got our goals and that’s how they got their two. We kinda knew at that point it was going to be a little bit harder.”
Carter scored on a rebound of Kyle Clifford’s original shot to put the Kings on the board 4:18 into the game. That goal broke Vasilevskiy’s shutout streak at 150:13 seconds over four games.
Carter then returned favor and assisted Clifford’s goal 2:34 later. The Lightning broke down in the defensive zone, with what looked like a miscommunication on who had who. Clifford’s shot deflected off Mitchell Stephens in front of the net.
Alex Killorn scored his 19th goal of the season, matching his career high about three minutes after the Kings took that two-goal lead. He fired off a wrist shot from the left circle, assisted by Alex Volkov for the rookie’s first career point.
Stamkos tied the score just 1:19 after that. Tyler Johnson set up Cirelli on the original shot and Stamkos followed for the rebound.
That tie stood for just over 40 minutes of hockey. Eventually, 12 minutes into the third period, the Kings got back on top. They broke the Lightning’s perfect penalty kill streak after 20 kills. Dustin Brown tipped a shot from Prokhorkin right in front of the net.
The Lightning had chances to tie, and it seemed Cedric Paquette had done so with six minutes to go.
He tipped a shot between the right circle and the crease, but even as the Lighting celebrated, the officials conferenced. They ruled no goal due to a high stick, then reviewed the play and confirmed the call.
Kucherov and Cirelli came up big five minutes later to force the overtime, then the shootout and eventually the win.