Stamkos, Kucherov Propel NHL-Best Lightning Past Kings, 5-2

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn each had a goal and an assist during Tampa Bay’s four-goal first period, and the NHL-leading Lightning beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 Thursday night in an early meeting of division leaders.

Victor Hedman also scored while Tampa Bay’s stars led a fantastic four-goal outburst in just 2:02 to bury Jonathan Quick and the Pacific Division-leading Kings, who lost at home in regulation for the first time this season.

Vladislav Namestnikov added a third-period goal and Peter Budaj made 22 saves against his former Los Angeles teammates for the Lightning, who improved the NHL’s best record to 13-2-2 with their third straight victory overall.

Oscar Fantenberg scored his first career goal and Quick stopped 38 shots for the Kings (11-3-2), who had won nine of 12 before falling into a huge early hole against the NHL’s top team this season.

Kucherov started the Lightning’s avalanche of goals during 4-on-4 play midway through the first period, slipping out on a breakaway to accept a pass from Stamkos. The Russian forward leads the NHL with 16 goals in 17 games, and he has eight points in the last three games.

Stamkos kept the overall NHL scoring lead with 30 points, but Kucherov is right behind with 29.

Tyler Toffoli scored in the second period for Los Angeles, and Brooks Laich got his first point for the Kings with an assist on Fantenberg’s goal midway through the third.

Budaj was sharp against the franchise with which he revitalized his NHL career last season. Thrust into an everyday role by Quick’s early-season injury, Budaj won 27 games with a 2.12 goals-against average before getting traded to Tampa Bay in February for Ben Bishop when Quick returned.

Killorn scored 34 seconds after Kucherov’s opening goal with a tip in front, and Hedman connected 34 seconds after that. Stamkos capped the onslaught 54 seconds later with his eighth goal of the season on a setup from Killorn and Kucherov, who secured his 11th multipoint game already this season.

Toffoli scored a 1-on-4 goal during a power play late in the second period, and captain Anze Kopitar appeared to score moments later, but his goal was wiped out for goalie interference on video review.

NOTES: The Lightning improved to 6-1-1 on the road. … Kopitar got an assist on Toffoli’s goal for his 20th point of the season. He scored his 20th point last season on Jan. 9. … Tampa Bay forward Ryan Callahan missed his first game of the season with a lower-body injury. … Los Angeles scratched Adrian Kempe due to illness. The Swedish forward has seven goals in his last 10 games. He missed only his third game for the Kings since his NHL debut last Feb. 16.

UP NEXT

Lightning: At the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.

Kings: Host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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