The incredible stick-handling skills and natural goal-scoring ability has lead Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov to be named the NHL’s First Star of the Week.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has been on quite a run as of late. In fact, the Bolts have picked up points in 10 of their last 12 games, including an amazing shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. There is one thing many of these have in common.
What is this common denominator in a good number of these Lightning victories? Well, many of them can be attributed to the incredible goal scoring and playmaking abilities of Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov.
It would seem as if Nikita Kucherov’ exceptional skills have garnered him some recognition outside the realm of the Bolts Nation. So much so the National Hockey League has named Nikita Kucherov the Number One Star of the Week. Everyone here in the Bolts Nation isn’t shocked by the news in the slightest.
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The 23-year-old Russian forward has earned points in his last six games, dating all the way back to February 21st when the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 at the Amalie Arena. Unsurprisingly, this is just the beginning of the incredible accomplishments he’s acquired as of late.
One of Kucherov’ biggest accomplishments over the course of the last week came on February 27th as the Lightning battled their Divisional rivals, the Ottawa Senators. Kucherov picked up three unanswered goals in a row on the Power Play to earn his second career hat trick. The Bolts would defeat the Senators 5-1.
The coup-de-grace of Kucherov’ recent accomplishments came just two nights ago at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. The Lightning was trying desperately to pick up a much-needed two points against the Buffalo Sabres. A victory would bring the Bolts one step closer to their goal, a loss would allow the Sabres to leapfrog the Bolts and potentially derail the Lightning’s postseason hopes.
When the buzzer would sound to end regulation, the Lightning and the Sabres would be tied at one goal apiece. Unfortunately, the overtime period would not decide the victor in this contest. The victor would be determined in a shootout. Anyone who has witnessed a shootout knows how stressful they are; especially when there is so much hanging in the balance.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy had already shut down Buffalo Sabres forwards Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point brought home a goal in his first attempt. Now, everything depends on the actions of Nikita Kucherov.
The shootout attempt started just like any other. Then…it happened.
This left many Tampa Bay Lightning fans with an astonished look on their faces screaming “Oh my God, did that just happen?!?” If there was ever an exciting way to win a game, this definitely ranks at the top of the list.
Nikita Kucherov has been a tremendous asset to the Tampa Bay Lightning this season; especially in the absence of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. In the 57 games he’s played this season, Kucherov has brought home 28 goals and 35 assists for a total of 63 points to accompany his plus-11 rating.
These numbers place Kucherov is first place on the team in goals, second place on the team in assists, and first place on the team in overall points. Essentially, the only Lightning player who even challenges Kucherov’ scoring prowess this season is Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, who leads the team in assists with 43.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has a challenging road in front of them as they attempt to forge a path to the postseason. Every single point from here on out is essential to the Lightning reaching their goal. Thankfully, with someone like Nikita Kucherov on the team, the path is just a little less arduous.