Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

Nikita Kucherov shows off his scoring touch with two goals

The Lightning forward records five-point game, reaches 99 points.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, right, of Russia, scores past Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo, of Finland, during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, right, of Russia, scores past Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo, of Finland, during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
Published Feb. 19, 2019
Updated Feb. 19, 2019

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Sure, Nikita Kucherov can make silky smooth assists. He can find teammates before they even know they’re open. But the Lightning’s playmaker extraordinaire can also score.

Kucherov showed off his scoring touch with almost identical backhand goals 3:09 apart in the first period.

He has racked up points this year. He has 99 points and 29 multi-point games, and yet, Monday’s 5-1 win over Columbus was only his fourth multi-goal game of the season.

The Lightning needed those two goals more than the final score may appear. Tampa Bay started the game sluggish and was outshot 20-6. Andrei Vasilevskiy got the Lightning through to the intermission without a deficit and Kucherov gave Tampa Bay the lead.

“(Vasilevskiy) and Kuch are really carrying this team, and the engine on this team,” Ryan McDonagh said after the game.

The first goal came 11:18 into the game. McDonagh made a nice play on Pierre-Luc Dubois, forcing a turnover. Mikhail Sergachev passed the puck up the boards, setting Kucherov and Yanni Gourde up in a two-on-one. Kucherov backhanded the puck up over Joonas Korpisalo.

The second goal again came off a turnover. This time Braydon Coburn caused the turnover from Nick Foligno. Kucherov picked up the loose puck, carried it up the ice and backhanded it through Korpialo’s legs.

Kucherov made the plays sounds simple: He saw an opening and he scored. If only it were always that easy.

“That’s what he can do,” Jon Cooper said. “Two magical plays by Kuch. On nights when your not at your best, the team’s not at their best, our big-time player came to play and our goaltender held us in.”

Vasilevskiy almost recorded his third straight shutout, but Lukas Sedlak broke through with 1:45 left in the game. Vasilevskiy’s scoreless streak ended at 183:53, something that ground on all of the Lightning after the game.

Kucherov enjoys dishing the puck out. Earlier this week, after recording three assists, Kucherov said he likes drawing opponents to himself and then finding a teammate for the goal.

He did some of that on Monday as well. Kucherov assisted Brayden Point twice, 36 seconds apart, and Steven Stamkos once. That adds up to Kucherov’s second five-point game of the season, and 70 assists. He can add that assist mark to his list of Lightning records. The previous record of 68 assists was shared by Brad Richards (2005-06) and Martin St. Louis (2010-11).

Kucherov now has 99 points this season. The Lightning would have liked to get him that 100th point, but it’s only game No. 60 (the quickest any Lightning player has gotten to 100 was Vincent Lecavalier in 76 games in 2005-06).

“It’s pretty amazing, kind of hard to believe,” Point said. “But when you watch him in the games, and see what he does, you can see why he has that many points.”

He did more of that as well, assisting Brayden Point twice and Steven Stamkos once for a five-point game.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. The Lightning signed defenseman Zach Bogosian, whose contract was terminated by Buffalo earlier this week.
  2. Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin poses with the puck commemorating his 700th career NHL goal that he scored against the New Jersey Devils in the third period at Prudential Center on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Newark, New Jersey.
  3. Carolina Hurricanes right wing Nino Niederreiter (21) and center Martin Necas (88) speak to Hurricanes emergency goalie David Ayres as he takes the ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs during second-period NHL hockey game action in Toronto, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) gives up a goal to Arizona Coyotes' Derek Stepan as Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) slides along the ice and Coyotes right wing Conor Garland (83) looks at the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz.
  5. Fans gather in Thunder Alley at Amalie Arena before the start of the 2019-2020 NHL season home opener between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers on Thursday, October 3, 2019, in Tampa.
  6. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cedric Paquette shoots as Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury defends during the third period Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights won 5-3.
  7. Columbus left wing Artemi Panarin (9) and Columbus Blue Jackets center Matt Duchene (95) celebrate in front of the Lightning bench during the Blue Jackets' first-round victory over Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2019 NHL Playoffs. The four-game sweep was Columbus' payoff for a few deals at the trade deadline for players with expiring contracts.
  8. Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Stastny (26) scores against Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Las Vegas.
  9. The Lightning traded Danick Martel to the Panthers for Anthony Greco.
  10. Trading Martin St. Louis was hard, but the Lightning's return turned out to be even better than they thought at the time.
  11. Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher, left, flies into Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Curtis McElhinney while pursuing the puck in the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, in Denver. The Lightning won 4-3 in overtime.
  12. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, right, drives past Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon to score the winning goal in overtime of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, in Denver. The Lightning won 4-3.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement