Verhaeghe gets a hat trick in Lightning’s victory

by Gary Shelton on January 8, 2020

in general

Verhaeghe had his first career hat trick./CHUCK MULLER

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

There went Steven Stamkos. And not long afterward, there went Nikita Kucherov.

The stars of the Tampa Bay Lightning were buzzing Tuesday night. Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn.

But the biggest star of all?

How about 24-year-old Carter Verhaeghe?

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Vasilevskiy was strong in goal./CHUCK MULLER

Verhaeghe scored his first career hat-trick to lead the Lightning to its eighth straight win, a 9-2 laugher over the Vancouver Canucks. Verhaeghe entered the game with just two goals in his NHL career, but scored one in the second period and two in the third. It was the 59th hat trick in Lightning history.

“That’s got to be the thrill of a lifetime," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "He’s kind of bounced around with us at different positions. He's been in and out of the lineup. But it’s been leading up. He’s had a couple of good games here at the end of the road trip. He was feeling it tonight. It was great to see."

Said Verhaeghe: “I think it’s growing every game here.\Once you’re winning your puck battles its easier to make plays. It's a pretty special feeling.”

It was 2-2 with 4:53 to play in the second period, but the Lightning scored six times in the second period and three more in the third.

"No one's going to remember the score of this game," Cooper said. "But one guy is going to remember he got three."

Besides Verhaeghe, the Lightning got a goal from Point (his 18th), one from Stamkos (his 17th) and Killorn (his 17th) and one from Kucherov (his 15th). Also scoring for the Bolts was Johnson (his 10th) and Erik Cernak.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy won his 20th game of the season, stopping 21 of 23 shots. It was his sixth straight win.

"He looks confident in the net. He looks big," Cooper said.

Both the Lightning and Canucks entered the game with seven-game winning streaks, only the second time in NHL history teams have played after winning so often.

The Bolts play against Arizona on Thursday night. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.

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