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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)
Published Feb. 19
Updated Feb. 19

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.


  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
    Defensemen 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.