Kucherov’s hat trick leads Bolts’ win

by Gary Shelton on January 24, 2024

in general

Kucherov has 80 points this season./TIM WIRT

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

He is better today than he was yesterday. He was better then than he was the day before.

Every shift, it seems, Nikita Kucherov is getting better.

And can you wait until tomorrow?

Kucherov was dazzling again Tuesday night, scoring a hat trick to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 6-3 victory over Philadelphia. It was the fifth career hat trick for Kucherov, and it gave him 31 goals (one more than all of last year) and a league-leading 80 points.

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The game was closer than the score would lead you to believe. After taking a 3-0 lead, the Bolts found themselves defending a 4-3 lead in the final moments. A pair of empty net goals (one by Brandon Hagel and the other by Kucherov) iced the win for Tampa Bay.

Kucherov, who also had an assist, had his fourth game with four or more points.

“He’s a pleasure to watch every night.,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.  He’s definitely worth the price of admission. We’ve been watching this all year. Fabulous player. Unique. Elite. I don’t know what else to say about him I ’m running out of words.

“He shoots more (this season). Considerably more. When he shoots it, it has eyes.”

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 32 shots.

Brayden Point and Mike Eyssimont also had goals.

The Bolts have struggled on the road this year, but they won two of three on this trip. They now return to Amalie Arena to face Arizona Thursday night at 7 p.m.

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