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DETROIT (AP) — Andrei Vasilevskiy made 45 saves for his 30th NHL shutout and the Tampa Bay Lightning cooled off the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 on Saturday night.
Nikita Kucherov reached 699 points with a goal and an assist, Brayden Point also had a goal and an assist and Alex Killorn added an empty-net goal to help the Lightning win for the second time in five games.
The Lighting were coming off a 6-5 overtime loss to Buffalo and were eager to bounce back.
“He’s an outstanding goalie in this league, so we’ve seen him play great games on a number of occasions,” Tampa Bay coach John Cooper said. “Probably not to that extent, just because we don’t usually play that poorly. He really wanted to get back out there after the Buffalo game, and boy, it shows Vasy’s character to play the other night like he did and then come right back and stand on his head. That was a marvelous performance.”
Ville Husso stopped 15 shots for the Red Wings. They had won seven of their last eight games. Detroit has been shut out three times this season.
“We needed this game after Buffalo,” Vasilevskiy said. “Detroit is obviously really hot and fighting for the playoffs, but we got some important goals and the defense did a great job blocking shots.”
Detroit coach Derek Lalonde, Cooper’s former top assistant, had an inkling Vasilevskiy would ferociously protect the net.
“As a team when they come off poor losses, they dig in but no one digs in more than Vasy off a poor performance,” Lalonde said. “He takes it personal. He was just remarkable. Obviously, it feels like we deserved a much better fate.”
Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen was hit in the kneecap while blocking a shot in the first period and did not return. Lalonde said afterward he was still be evaluated by the medical staff.
Point’s 35th goal provided the only scoring in the opening period. Kucherov’s lead pass allowed Point to get behind the defense and he lifted a shot just inside the crossbar.
Detroit dominated the second period with a 19-3 shots on goal advantage, yet Tampa Bay emerged with a 2-0 lead.
Shortly after the Lightning killed off a penalty, Kucherov backhanded a shot from the right circle that squeezed through Husso’s pads with seven seconds left in the period. Kucherov’s 22nd goal this season was his 20th in 32 career games against Detroit.
“That’s a big swing,” Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman said. “We had a cluster in our own end and survived it and then we go down and get one with seven seconds left. That really lifts your confidence.”
That was more than enough support for Vasilevskiy.
“It’s not what you want to see as the other team when he’s hot like that and pucks are hitting him,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “You could just tell he was going to be the difference maker.”
Lightning D Erik Cernak served the first game of a two-game league suspension for elbowing Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo on Thursday. … Detroit F Lucas Raymond missed his eighth consecutive game due to a lower body injury. … Detroit won the first two games of the four-game season series. They’ll play again in the regular-season finale for both teams on April 13. … Point has 16 goals in 30 games against Detroit.
Lightning: At Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Red Wings: At Ottawa on Monday and Tuesday nights.