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Nikita Kucherov named player of the month by the NHL

Nikita Kucherov had a pretty good month.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Despite missing his last game with a touch of the flu, Nikita Kucherov was named the NHL Star of the Month for March by the National Hockey League. Sergei Bobrovsky and Patrick Kane were named the second and third stars respectively.

When a player is named first star of the week twice in the same 30 day span, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that he will lock up the player of the month honors.

In the last 30 days Kucherov:

  • Dazzled fans around the league with the no-shot-shootout winner
  • Recorded a hat trick against Boston
  • Recorded multiple points in eight of the twelve games he appeared in
  • Ended the month with five straight multi-point games
  • Scored 12 goals and added 10 assists
  • Led the league with six power play goals
  • Almost single-handedly kept the Lightning in the playoffs
  • Set a franchise record for points in a month by a Lightning player
  • Became Jack Eichel’s favorite player
  • Was named First Star of the Week - twice

That would be an impressive season, let alone month. Without Kucherov elevating his game, the Lightning would not be in a position to fight for a playoff spot. He is the engine that is driving the offense right now. Case in point - in the three games that he didn’t record a point, the Lightning were shut out in two of them.

March has been the capstone to a career year for the 23-year-old Russian who has set personal bests in goals (38) assists (42) and power play goals (17). He’s picked up the burden of the offense in Stamkos’ absence and has made taking a penalty against the Lightning a foolish mistake.

Seriously, how do you stop that? You don’t. You hope he misses the net, which he didn’t do much of during March. He is expected back in the line-up for Saturday’s game against Montreal. Hopefully, some of that March magic can carry over into April.

See below for the official press release:

KUCHEROV, BOBROVSKY AND KANE NAMED NHL ‘THREE STARS’ FOR MARCH

NEW YORK (April 1, 2017) – Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of March.

FIRST STAR – NIKITA KUCHEROV, RW, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Kucherov paced the NHL with 12-10—22 in 14 games, and also led the League with six power-play goals, to power the Lightning (38-29-9, 85 points) to a 10-4-1 March. He collected at least one point in 11 of his 14 outings, highlighted by eight multi-point performances as well as a five-game streak to close the month (7-4—11). Kucherov also registered his third career hat trick March 23 at BOS and second career overtime goal March 24 at DET. The 23-year-old Maykop, Russia, native – who set a Lightning record for points in one calendar month – shares second place in the NHL with 38 goals and ranks sixth overall with 80 points through 68 games this season, both career highs. His 17 power-play goals, another career high, share the League lead.

SECOND STAR – SERGEI BOBROVSKY, G, COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

Bobrovsky went 9-1-1 with a 1.09 goals-against average, .967 save percentage and four shutouts to guide the Blue Jackets (49-20-8, 106 points) to a 10-4-2 March, helping the team clinch its third all-time playoff appearance. He yielded one goal or fewer in eight of his 11 outings, highlighted by three straight shutouts to open the month. Bobrovsky also made 30-plus saves seven times, including a season-high 44 March 23 at WSH. The 28-year-old Novokuznetsk, Russia, native leads the NHL in wins (41), goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.935) – and shares second place in shutouts (7) – through 60 appearances this season. His 41 victories are a club record, already eight more than the franchise’s prior mark.

THIRD STAR – PATRICK KANE, RW, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Kane ranked second in the NHL with 10-12—22 in 16 games as the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks (50-21-7, 107 points) posted an 11-3-2 March to clinch their ninth consecutive playoff berth. He registered at least one point in 12 of his 16 contests, seven of which were multi-point efforts. That included a trio of three-point performances, highlighted by his fourth career hat trick March 1 vs. PIT. The 28-year-old Buffalo native and reigning Art Ross Trophy winner places second in the NHL with 34-53—87 through 78 games this season, including a League-leading 19-19—38 in 26 outings since Feb. 1.