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Mar 22, 2024 11:47 pm

Riding 5-game win streak, Lightning clash with Kings

Kucherov Point

The Los Angeles Kings will prepare for the finale of their homestand on a high note.

After pasting the Minnesota Wild 6-0 on Wednesday behind goaltender David Rittich’s 31-save shutout, the Kings will wrap up their three-game stretch at home Saturday night by seeking a third straight victory when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And threes were wild Wednesday for Los Angeles (36-22-11, 83 points).

In a pair of three-goal periods in the first 40 minutes against the Wild, the Kings had six different players pop the net, 11 register points and seven produce two-point outings as they breezed to their fourth victory in seven matches (4-3-0).

The Pacific Division club received an added boost with the return of forward Viktor Arvidsson, who missed 14 games with a lower-body injury and skated in just his fifth contest.

Playing right wing on the third line with left winger Alex Laferriere and center Pierre-Luc Dubois, Arvidsson notched his first goal and added an assist on Anze Kopitar’s tally to wrap up the game’s scoring.

“He’s a really good player, adds so much depth to our team,” Kings winger Trevor Moore said. “So good on the power play and you see him out there, he’s just a ball of energy and he’s huge for us.”

Rittich notched his third shutout this season and pushed his mark to 11-5-3.

Kopitar eclipsed the 1,200-point benchmark with a goal and an assist, becoming the 52nd player in NHL history to reach the milestone and only the second Kings player (Marcel Dionne, 1,307) to get there.

The 36-year-old Kopitar is 107 points from passing Dionne as the organization’s all-time leading scorer and has two more years on his contract.

In San Jose on Thursday night, Tampa Bay (38-25-6, 82 points) skated to a 1-1 tie through two periods against the NHL-worst Sharks before Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point took control in a three-goal third that resulted in a 4-1 victory.

The win was the fifth consecutive one for coach Jon Cooper’s club, which turned the feat from Jan. 9 to Jan. 20 and is 8-2-1 in its past 11 matches as it tightens its grasp on the No. 1 wild-card position in the Eastern Conference.

With their third straight triumph as part of a five-game road trip, the Lightning are 18-10-2 against the Western Conference and 10-3-1 versus the Pacific.

In his 35th multi-point showing of the season, Kucherov dished out assists on all four goals to boost his league-leading point total to 122 (41 goals, 81 assists).

The right wing set a franchise record of 12 straight matches with an assist (five goals, 23 helpers).

He also established a career-high with his 19th three-assist game in a season, breaking his previous franchise record of 18 in 2018-19.

Point’s two tallies — the game-winner came on the power play just 34 seconds into the third — brought his total to 40.

“That’s a special mark,” Cooper said of Point netting at least 40 goals for the third time in his eight-year career. “Not a lot of guys get to that every year.”

The power-play marker was Point’s 10th game-winner and placed him into a tie with Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson for tops in the league.

–Field Level Media

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