Kucherov’s hat trick too much for Sabres

by Gary Shelton on January 12, 2022

in general

Kucherov doesn't take recovery time./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

When he is moving as if he owns the ice, when he is seeing the things that mortal skaters do not see, when his stick is once again golden, those are the times that the Tampa Bay Lightning remind you that they have won two straight Stanley Cup championships.

They are, after all, Nikita Kucherov's team.

Kucherov, in his third game since returning from injury, scored a hat trick on Tuesday night as the Bolts blasted Buffalo, 6 -1. Before you take note of the miserable year that the Sabres are having, remember that Buffalo had beaten the Lighting 5-1 in an earlier meeting.

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This time, they could not keep up with Kucherov, who scored twice in the second period and again in the third.

“I don’t forget how good he is," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "I know how good he is. We all know how good he is. We see it every day. Give him time and space, and that’s what he’s going to do. That’s why he’s one of the best in the world."

Remember, it was Kucherov who missed the entire regular season a year ago, then came back to help the Bolts win the Stanley Cup. He doesn't take time to shake off the rust. He doesn't ease his way back into play. He shows up, and he shows off.

"He brings another dimension to our play," teammate Victor Hedman said.
He’s so good at finding open space.  Just try to give him the puck as much as you can, and good things are going to happen."

Buffalo never had a chance, giving up first-period goals to Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli. Stamkos scored in the second period and had two assists on the night.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy won his 20th game of the season for the Bolts. It was the eighth time this season Vasilevskiy has allowed one or fewer goals.

The Bolts are home at Amalie Arena on Thursday night against Vancouver. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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