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Nikita Kucherov helps the Lightning past Flames

Kucherov had four points in Tampa Bay’s win, for consecutive multi-point games.
Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov celebrates his goal after beating Flames goaltender David Rittich.
Published Feb. 13
Updated Feb. 13

TAMPA—Nikita Kucherov is back. There was never a reason for panic, but you can release the slight tension in your raised shoulders after watching Tuesday’s game.

The team and league’s scoring leader has consecutive multi-point games for the first time since Dec. 31 and Jan. 3. Kucherov had four points in the Lightning’s 6-3 win over Calgary, following the three he had on Sunday.

Kucherov had gone 10 games without a goal before Sunday’s win over Florida. He broke the streak with two goals, including a power-play goal late to put the game out of reach, and an assist. He scored late in the first period and had three assists in the game on Tuesday.

“The offense kind of goes with Kuch,” Steven Stamkos said. “We weren’t worried about Kuch. Once he got one, you know they’re going to come in bunches. Now he’s right back to where he was.”

The Kucherov Lighting fans saw Tuesday was the one Lightning fans have gotten used to: a little bit of everything, everywhere. He was part of some beautiful passing on Brayden Point’s power-play goal. He set up Anthony Cirelli from behind the net. He had a patented feed of a Steven Stamkos one-timer on the power play.

Each of the three assists was an entirely different play. Kucherov isn’t a player who needs to stick in his spot and do the same thing over again (though, don’t bet against him from the right dot).

Kucherov set a career high with 63 assists on the season, and there’s almost a third of the year still to be played. Last year, his first 100-point season, Kucherov totaled 61 assists.

He summed it up succinctly: “I like passing the puck.”

Kucherov, who has 14 more assists than anyone else in the league, enjoys having the puck on his stick, pulling two opponents to him and then find someone open.

“He has that ability to find guys, even when it doesn’t look like the guys are open. He’s got that ability,” coach Jon Cooper said. “What I like, though, is that he was shooting the puck tonight.”

Kucherov’s goal started with a nice little move on T.J. Brodie to open up a shooting lane. Then he put a wrist shot on David Rittich from the high slot. It was a pretty goal to put the Lightning up 3-0 late in the first period.

The Russian is known for being hard on himself and he rarely talks about his own game. Asked about getting back on the scoresheet, he said “it’s good to see two wins, that’s better.”

In the past, slumps have weighed on Kucherov. He has had a hard time pulling out. That wasn’t the case this time, though.

“He’s done a really good job of maturing as a person and a player,” Stamkos said. “When he goes through those stretches where he’s not letting that frustration set in and he’s going about doing his business knowing that eventually he’s going to get rewarded because he’s too good a player to not have the puck go in and make plays."


  1. After Colorado's 6-2 whitewash on Saturday left goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning looking for answers, the Bolts had a spirited practice at Amalie Arena on Sunday. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Defenseman Ryan McDonagh says the team has failed to meet expectations in this early stage of the season
  2. Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92), left, and Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) tussle behind the Colorado net during the second period Saturday at Amalie Arena. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    Tampa Bay racks up 18 penalty minutes in Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Colorado.
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) is beaten (again) by Colorado Avalanche center Tyson Jost (17) for the go-ahead goal (2-1) during the second period Saturday at Amalie Arena. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Little goes right for Tampa Bay, which is dominated by Colorado.
  4. The Tampa Bay Lightning's alternate jerseys hang in the locker room last season. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The “Disrupt the Night”-themed jerseys were a bone of contention among some fans and broadcasters last season because of illegible numbers.
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) scores against Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) in a shootout on Oct. 17 in Boston. The Lightning won 4-3. ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Journal: Tampa Bay will spend three games at home before another extended stint on the road, and tonight’s post-game concert is moving inside.
  6. Former Lightning wing Ryan Callahan's debut as an NHL Network analyst is drawing positive reviews. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Slap Shots: And we answer this week’s reader’s question: Why doesn’t Victor Hedman play more minutes, like other No. 1 defensemen?
  7. Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates with teammates after he scored in overtime of the team's NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019 in Sunrise, Fla. The Avalanche won 5-4. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    Now the Avalanche head to Amalie Arena for a showdown with the Lightning on Saturday.
  8. Nikita Kucherov teams with Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos to give the Lightning one of the most potent top lines in the league. They'll face off against another "super line" Saturday against Colorado. Tampa Bay Times
    After the Boston Bruins’ super trio, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov look for more success against Colorado’s concentrated scorers.
  9. Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) and right wing Luke Witkowski (28) celebrate with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) after the Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 in a shootout in an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: There was bad news Thursday in the Tampa Bay penalty box, for USF’s Blake Barnett, for the Yankees and the NFL’s reigning MVP.
  10. Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) goes down along the boards as he chases the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning centers Alex Killorn (17) and Anthony Cirelli (71) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Diana C. Nearhos’ notes from the game: Why not try Mikhail Sergachev with Ryan McDonagh? Point empty on the shootout again.