Victor Hedman had a goal and three assists as the surging Tampa Bay Lightning recorded their season-best fourth straight win, drubbing the visiting Minnesota Wild 7-3 on Thursday night.
The victory also delivered a sweep of Tampa Bay’s four-game homestand, which included triumphs over the Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks.
Anthony Cirelli had two goals and an assist, while Brayden Point scored and added two helpers.
Steven Stamkos and Michael Eyssimont netted power-play goals. Waltteri Merela scored his first career goal in his 15th NHL game. Nikita Kucherov reached 500 career assists with a three-helper outing.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 30 shots to win for the fourth straight time for the Lightning, who went 3-for-3 on the power play for the second consecutive game.
Minnesota’s Jake Middleton scored his career-high sixth goal and had two assists. Joel Eriksson Ek and Marco Rossi scored, but the Wild fell to 2-8-1 over their past 11 games and 7-12-2 on the road.
Filip Gustavsson made 31 saves for the Wild, who announced that defenseman Jared Spurgeon will have season-ending hip and back surgery next month.
Having dropped the first meeting against the Lightning 4-1 on Jan. 4, the Wild opened their three-game road swing with Eriksson Ek zipping home his team-leading 18th goal at 5:17.
But less than a minute later, Hedman evened it with a strong blast from well above the left circle. The one-timer was the 2018 Norris Trophy winner’s eighth of the campaign.
On the game’s first power play to Tampa Bay, Minnesota’s Connor Dewar had a breakaway chance for a short-handed marker, but Vasilevskiy pushed hard to his left and denied the try with 21 seconds left.
Just 16 seconds into the second, Cirelli hit the net just before the carry-over power play ended. Point and Hedman assisted on his ninth goal.
Conor Sheary’s steal and crisp cross-ice feed to Merela led to the 25-year-old’s first tally at 3:20 for a 3-1 edge, forcing Wild coach John Hynes to use his timeout and address his club.
The Wild answered when the rookie Rossi netted his 13th goal at 10:52 after slick passes by Kirill Kaprizov and Middleton.
Point made it 4-2 at 12:41 with his 21st tally, but Middleton’s goal with 15 seconds left capped the frame’s scoring.
The Atlantic Division team put it away with goals by Stamkos, Eyssimont and Cirelli in the final period.
–Field Level Media
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