Vasilevskiy, Point help Lightning beat Blue Jackets 4-0
By MARK DIDTLER
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Andrei Vasilevskiy played like an All-Star after becoming one.
Vasilevskiy made 31 saves, Brayden Point had two goals and an assist, and the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0 on Tuesday night.
The Vezina Trophy finalist last season was named before the game to replace Montreal's Carey Price in the All-Star Game.
"It's a pretty good feeling," Vasilevskiy said.
"He played great," Columbus defenseman Seth Jones said of Vasilevskiy. "He's a big guy in there. He's tough to score on, tough to get pucks by him. We had some pretty good looks actually around the net, around the crease, around the hash-mark area. We couldn't get one by him."
Tampa Bay (33-8-2, 68 points) is two points off the pace of the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, who set the NHL record for points in a season with 132. The Lightning had a 16-game point streak (15-0-1) end in a 5-2 loss at San Jose on Saturday.
"We come back with a win, it's a good thing," Point said.
Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled in the third after allowing four goals on 19 shots for the Blue Jackets, who are 8-3-1 over the last 12 games. Both left wing Markus Hannikaimen (upper body) and center Brandon Dubinsky (lower body) left with injuries.
"I'm disappointed for our team because I thought we did a lot of really good things," Columbus coach John Tortorella said.
Vasilevskiy turned aside 17 shots, including three good scoring chances by Artemi Panarin, during the second en route to his second shutout this season and 14th overall.
"The second period was, probably, our most efficient and complete period," Tortorella said. "When we're on top of them like we were in the second period, their goalie was just outstanding. I thought we were outstanding and we come away empty."
Kucherov, on his 21st goal and 71st point, and Point had third-period goals that put the Lightning ahead 4-0.
"Clearly, Vasy was our best player in the second," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "I like the way they regrouped in the third."
Point has 26 goals and 57 points.
After Joseph scored 15:55 into the first, Point made it 2-0 at 16:39 when Kucherov sent the puck from a tough angle into the crease and it went off the center.
Kucherov became the 10th player to reach 50 assists within his team's first 43 games of a season on Point's goal. It's the first time it has occurred since Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Ron Francis all did it in 1995-96.
Kucherov is also the first player to have 70 points within the initial 43 games of a season since Jagr in 1999-00.
Tampa Bay is 11-0-0 against the Metropolitan Division. The Lightning have won eight in a row at home.
NOTES: Victor Hedman tied Pavel Kubina for most games played by a Tampa Bay defenseman with 662. ... Blue Jackets LW Nick Foligno missed his fourth consecutive game to be with his daughter, who is recovering from surgery. ... Tampa Bay RW Ryan Callahan sat out with an upper-body injury.
Blue Jackets: Play Nashville Thursday night at home.
Lightning: Host Carolina Thursday night.
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Updated January 8, 2019