Kucherov sets a new scoring record for Bolts

by Gary Shelton on March 10, 2019 · 3 comments

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Kucherov broke the Bolts' scoring record./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday, 3 a.m.

The magnificent season of Nikita Kucherov continues. Frankly, the Lightning has never seen anything this good.

Kucherov scored two goals to shatter the team's scoring record Saturday night, leading the Lightning to a 3-2 win over Detroit. Kucherov now has 110 points on the season and becomes the first NHL player to score 110 in a season since Vancouver's Henrik Sedin in 2009-10.

As a team, the Bolts (52-13-4) now have 108 points, the second-most in franchise history with 13 games to go.

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Tampa Bay is 15-1-1 this season following a loss.

"Players, their dreams are to play in the NHL," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "To come in and be able to set records ... he passed an icon in Vinny and there's no doubt it means something. Now, if you're going to sit here and say single season record or Stanley Cup, he's clearly grabbing the Stanley Cup. In regular season, there are individual awards and there’s accolades like he did tonight.

"But usually when that happens it's because team’s having success. When the team’s having success, a big part of our team having success is what Kuch has done for us. So you like to see guys get rewarded for their efforts, especially with the season we're having. For him to do that, I know he's pretty pumped."

Granted, Lecavalier had 52 goals in his record-season, 19 more than Kucherov. But Kucherov leads the NHL in assists.

"It’s special for me and my family definitely," Kucherov said. "I don’t think many people believed in me, and I’m just trying to keep them wrong and just happy for myself. Thanks for the guys helping me out. Without them, I wouldn’t have as much success. It’s all the guys.”

The guys, frankly, are admiring the show.

"He's a pretty incredible player," said defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who scored the Bolts' first goal. "We’re pretty fortunate to have him as a part of our team. He broke the record there with the first one and in between the intermission we said might as well not stop now and sure enough he goes out and gets another one. That's the kind of player he's been this whole season, always wanting more, always trying to step up for us. I know him and he'll look at things in the power play and think back to some plays he wished he had back, but it's pretty incredible the impact he has every night consistently for us."

The Bolts took a 2-0 lead and seemed on the verge of an easy win. But Detroit scored with four seconds to play in the second period and with 56 seconds to play in the third.

"You have to continually get up, lace them up and play this out full well knowing that we're in the playoffs," Cooper said. "We have talked about this a lot about bringing consistency to our game. As we talked about two nights ago, our puck management and just doing things that are not going to win you in the playoffs. Aside from taking all the penalties in those first two periods, which was a little tough, we really didn't give them much.

"We finished that game out. It was unfortunate to give up that one at the end. The chances that we gave up against if you take away the power plays was what we really like to see. I thought we had a ton of good chances. Bernier was unreal tonight, but I just liked the way we played from start to finish albeit take out the penalties."

Backup goaltender Louis Domingue won his 20th game for the Bolts. He's now won 15 of his last 17.

The Bolts are on the road, traveling to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs on Monday. The puck drops at 7 p.m.





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