Nikita Kucherov is chasing greatness with 4 games to go

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After his fourth straight three-point game, Nikita Kucherov is igniting the Tampa Bay Lightning’s cup aspirations, as he races to try and join Wayne Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux, and Connor McDavid as only the fifth player in NHL history to finish a season, having contributed to over half of his team's goals.

The Lightning have looked locked in since the start of April. In their last five games, they've scored a total of 22 goals with Kucherov getting points on 13 of them. His consistency in producing such a large percentage of his team's offence has been close to this high all season long, directly contributing on 139 out of the Lightning's 276 goals scored this season. That equates to a staggering 50.36 percent contribution to his team's total offence.

In their most recent victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay showcased its dominance with a resounding 5-2 win. Their 44th win of the season started off with Brayden Point scoring his 44th goal of the season and ended with an electrifying bang, as Steven Stamkos capped off the night by scoring his 13th career hat-trick.

That final goal by the captain also gave Kucherov his third assist of the night, propelling him into the upper echelons of NHL history. With that assist being his 139th point of the season, he ascended into the top 30 for most points by a player in a single season, in NHL history. Kucherov and McDavid stand out as the only modern-day players within the top 50 of this esteemed list, surpassing players they probably looked up to growing up, like Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.

With Auston Matthews eyeing the milestone of becoming the first modern-day NHL player to score 70 goals in a season (only done by eight players in NHL history), and McDavid aiming to join the elite club of players with 100 assists in a season (only done by three players in NHL history), Kucherov's season-long dominance has been extremely under-appreciated. His consistent performance has been the cornerstone of the Lightning's success, because without him putting the team on his back, they may not have made the playoffs.

That said, Kuch hasn’t been doing it all alone. The entire Tampa Bay squad looks ready for another deep playoff run, with Andrei Vasilevskiy kicking in net like his old self, and their young defensive core playing physical hockey making it that much harder for opponents to outscore the Lightning's Kucherov-lead offence. 

While every team has its stars, none can match Kucherov's impact on Tampa's success this season. Unlike McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon, who benefit from linemates with over 100 points each (Leon Draisaitl and Mikko Rantanen with 104 points and 102 points respectively), Kucherov stands out with a significant 53-point lead over his closest teammate, Brayden Point, currently sitting at 86 points.

To end off this article, I'll list off some more impressive stats to highlight how truly remarkable this season has been for him:



Most 3-point games this season


Most power play points this season


Tied for first with MacKinnon for most 4-point games this season

8 each

Highest percentage of team's offense

50.36% (over 50% for a full season has only been achieved by four other players in NHL history)

Biggest gap between the first and second leading scorers on a team

53 point gap between him and Brayden Point

Read more about Nikita Kucherov's quest to catch Gretzky and Lemieux . Chasing Gretzky and Lemieux: Kucherov’s record breaking week. Chasing Gretzky and Lemieux: Kucherov’s record breaking week. dark