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)
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.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. DIRK SHADD   |   Times  
Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) beats Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) to score shorthanded making the score 3 to 1 during third period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (12/06/18).  SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Tampa Bay plays four games in six nights against the Islanders, Panthers, Bruins and Capitals ... oh my
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning center Carter Verhaeghe (23) celebrates his first NHL career goal as he returns to the bench with his team cheering as the Bolts go up 7-1 during third period action at Amalie Arena on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 in Tampa.  DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The rookie has been close for weeks but finally got that first one in the final minute of Saturday’s game.
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98)  battles San Jose Sharks left wing Evander Kane (9) in front of the net in the defensive zone during second period action at Amalie Arena on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 in Tampa. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    After 10 games playing with 11 forwards and seven defenseman, Jon Cooper goes back to the usual lineup.
  4. Tampa Bay dominates San Jose in a goal-a-thon
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) and defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) look on as the Minnesota Wild celebrate their goal scored by right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) to go up 5 to 4 during third period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 in Tampa. The Wild scored the goal just 8 seconds after Lightning Alex Killorn (17) scored a goal to tie the score 4-4. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    They believe they’re playing well but their lapses have been costly.
  6. The scoreboard on 90's night before the Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Minnesota Wild at Amalie Arena on DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The few players who remember the 90′s shared their favorite parts of the decade
  7. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) and defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) look on as the Minnesota Wild celebrate their goal scored by right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) to go up 5 to 4 during third period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 in Tampa. The Wild scored the goal just 8 seconds after Lightning Alex Killorn (17) scored a goal to tie the score 4-4. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Tampa Bay gives up five goals, leaving the coach to slam its defensive effort.
  8. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) celebrates beating Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock (32) to score his 100th career goal during second period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 in Tampa. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The loss to Minnesota puts a damper on the milestone, but he’s the first Tampa Bay defenseman to do it.
  9. Hedman scores his 100th career goal as the Bolts are defeated
  10. This undated photo provided by the Cook County Jail in Grand Marais, Minn., shows Mark Pavelich. The family of Pavelich, a player on the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" Olympic hockey team, believes concussions and blows he received during his playing career have contributed to his current legal troubles. He is charged with beating a neighbor with a metal pole.  (Cook County Jail via AP) AP
    The family of Mark Pavelich, who assisted on the winning goal in the 1980 victory over the Soviet Union, believes he has been affected by repeated concussions from his playing days.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement