Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 Greatest Moments In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

24. Nikita Kucherov Scores His First NHL Goal

Date: November 25, 2013

When someone mentions the Tampa Bay Lightning and their offensive core, one of the first names that comes to mind is almost always Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. However, the winds of change seem to be coming to the Bolts Nation. Over the past couple of seasons, a new player has forged their way into being one of the most integral parts of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s offense.

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov is part of a trio Lightning fans have come to know as the Triplets. Paired on the Lightning’s second line with his partners-in-crime Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov has started to not only build a strong foundation for what is sure to be a stellar NHL career, but he has really forged a path leading right to the forefront of the Lightning’s offense.

Last season, the Triplets accounted for just over one third of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s total offense. Nikita Kucherov played in 52 games with the Lightning. In that amount of time, the five foot eleven inch tall winger scored nine goals and nine assists for a total of 18 points. The most interesting part of this season was the manner in which he scored his very first goal.

Kucherov made his debut, as most people in the Lightning’s developmental system do, due to a number of injuries on the Lightning’s main roster. On November 25, 2013, a then-20 year old Nikita Kucherov took the ice at the then-Tampa Bay Times Forum to face off with the New York Rangers. Amazingly enough, Kucherov wasted no time at all in making his mark here in the Bolts Nation.

At just 2:12 seconds into the First Period, something amazing out happen. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer would take a shot at the net, which was directed wide by Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Lightning right wing Teddy Purcell would chase the puck behind the Rangers’ net and pass the puck forward to Nikita Kucherov, who was waiting patiently in the slot. Then…it happened.

Kucherov would pull back his stick and send the puck flying towards the net. Lundqvist would get a piece of the puck, but despite his best efforts the puck would still find its way to the back of the net. How many people do you know who made their National Hockey League debut and scored their first NHL goal on their first shot in their first shift of their first NHL game? Just saying it sounds completely insane, but ridiculously amazing.

Judging by the performance Nikita Kucherov has consistently put on season after season, he will certainly be an asset the Tampa Bay Lightning will want in their arsenal for many years to come.

Much like some of the other key pieces of the Tampa Bay Lightning offense, Nikita Kucherov is set to be a Restricted Free Agent at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season. Some tough choices are going to have to be made, but that is another story for another day.

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