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Lightning journal: Nikita Kucherov sets franchise first for goals

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times Nikita Kucherov beats Blues goalie Jake Allen on Saturday night for his fifth goal in the Lightning's first five games. He is the first Tampa Bay player to score in each of its first five games of a season.
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times Nikita Kucherov beats Blues goalie Jake Allen on Saturday night for his fifth goal in the Lightning's first five games. He is the first Tampa Bay player to score in each of its first five games of a season.
Published Oct. 15, 2017

TAMPA — Another night, another goal for RW Nikita Kucherov. He has five this season, one in each game to become the first player in team history to turn that trick.

His latest came in the third period Saturday and proved to be the winner in a 2-1 victory against the Blues. Taking a chip pass from C Steven Stamkos, Kucherov controlled the puck on the back of his blade and quickly snapped it past G Jake Allen.

"The (play) kind of happened quick," Kucherov said. "I didn't (envision) that I could do that."

Coach Jon Cooper said a backhand shot is the hardest for a goalie to read. "But when you deceptively throw the backhand, it makes it even harder, and that's what (Kucherov) did," Cooper said. "He didn't even sell the shot, and all of a sudden it was in the net. That's why he's a special player."

Kucherov is the first player to open the season with five goals in five games since Patrick Marleau with the Sharks in 2012-13.

Crisp proud of trailblazing

There were many in the early 1990s who thought hockey in the sun was a bad idea.

But here is the Lightning, celebrating its 25th anniversary this weekend.

"I consider a point of pride that we were the cornerstone block," Terry Crisp, the first coach in franchise history, said Saturday as the 1992-93 inaugural team was honored before the game against the Blues.

"I consider it a point of pride that it stayed here when everybody poo-pooed it, and I give all the credit to the fans, the hockey fans, and the owners who came in, put their money in and made it all happen."

The high point for the franchise was beating the Flames in 2004 for the Stanley Cup.

Crisp, who coached the Flames to the 1989 Cup title, was invited to Tampa by the Lightning for Game 7 of the 2004 Cup final. He politely declined, telling the Lightning, "We're going to sit at home, we're going to open a bottle of wine, we're going to watch that game and we're going to cheer both ways because I can't lose. I'm going to win this one, one way or another."

Quote of the day

"If we played in a normal rink, who would have cared? Just another rink. But they converted that, made it into a rink, 10,300 (fans), and the stories get better and better."

— Inaugural Lightning coach Terry Crisp, on playing the first season at Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds

Celebration time

The Lightning celebrates its 25th anniversary today from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Expected to be there are co-founder Phil Esposito, original team executive Tony Esposito, coach Terry Crisp and players Rob Ramage, Rob Zamuner, Ken Hodge, Adam Creighton, John Tucker, Chris Kontos, Basil McRae, Rob DiMaio, Brian Bradley, Tim Berglund, Joe Reekie, Peter Taglianetti, Mikael Andersson, Pat Jablonski and Steve Maltais.

Slap shots

C Cedric Paquette returned to the lineup after missing Thursday's game against the Penguins with an undisclosed injury. … The Lightning wore the white jerseys of the inaugural season during warmups.

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