COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Mikhail Sergachev is so unaccustomed to scoring goals that he wasn’t even sure how to celebrate after he got one.
The 19-year-old rookie defenseman got his first two NHL goals and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 43 saves for his fifth career shutout in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Sergachev joked about the scoring celebrations. “I was like, what am I supposed to do now?”
Nikita Kucherov assisted on both goals to push his NHL-leading points total to 14. His goals streak was stopped at seven games.
The Lightning took advantage of the few openings offered by Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 19 shots for the slow-starting Blue Jackets and lost for the first time this season. Columbus had won four straight.
“We waded into the game,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. “We didn’t really put our best foot forward. We didn’t skate in the first period and allowed them to dictate their game.”
The Lightning, coming off an overtime loss to New Jersey on Tuesday night, improved to 6-1-1 for their best start since opening 7-0-1 in their Stanley Cup-winning 2003-04 season.
Columbus dropped to 5-2-0, hurt by uncharacteristic sloppy passing and continued power-play problems in its first shutout loss of the season. When they did get scoring chances, Vasilevskiy shut the door.
“After pretty much a period where we were dominated in the first one, I thought we had some good minutes in the second and third,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “We just couldn’t solve their goalie.”
Sergachev opened the scoring with 2:12 left in the first period when he unloaded from the left point and beat Bobrovsky just inside the near post. Kucherov assisted, as did Vladislov Namestnikov, who wrested the puck away from Columbus’ Cam Atkinson in the corner.
Sergachev got his second with 4:23 left in the second. He scored from the high slot off a nice feed from Kucherov. Steven Stamkos also was credited with an assist, giving him six in the last four games.
“I’m trying to build my confidence playing better D, and those (goals) just kind of came along with it,” Sergachev said.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper likes what he sees from the young Russian.
“He’s actually made great strides as a player in his first eight games in the league,” Cooper said. “Especially these last couple games have been his strongest of the year. He’s earning his ice time and he’s earning power-play time. It’s just a learning process, but you can see the skill he has.”
NOTES: Kucherov and Stamkos have at least one point in all eight games this season….Columbus was 0 for 3 on the power player to drop to 1 for 19 overall. … D Scott Harrington and F Markus Hannikainen were healthy scratches for the Blue Jackets. … F J.T. Brown, who hasn’t played since he raised his fist in protest during the national anthem Oct. 7, was scratched for Lightning, as were C Cedric Paquette and D Slater Koekkoek.
Lightning: Host Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
Blue Jackets: Host Los Angeles on Saturday night.