In Breaking Down the Play, we’ll take a video of a play from the Tampa Bay Lightning. We’ll discuss the play and how it develops and the keys to the play. With this, we hope to learn something about how the game is played.
In this Breaking Down the Play, we’ll examine an overtime goal by Nikita Kucherov off of a feed from Brayden Point. The play we’re looking at is from an away game at the Detroit Red Wings on March 24th, 2017.
The Red Wings opened the scoring 8:03 into the second period on a Henrik Zetterberg goal. 5:53 into the third period, Kucherov set up Ondrej Palat for a goal to tie it up and eventually send the game into overtime. Kucherov’s goal came 3:28 into the overtime period to win the game 2-1.
The play starts with a loose puck coming to Kucherov at the left wing half-wall. You can see Victor Hedman coming out of the corner at the start of the clip, however, as evidenced by Hedman not getting an assist on the goal, he did not touch it.
Kucherov collects the puck. Hedman skates past him and circles around to the blue line and back towards the right point with Andreas Athanasiou shadowing him. Brayden Point moves from in front of the net down into the corner drawing Zetterberg with him. Kucherov baits Mike Green into advancing towards him while Point is making his move. As soon as Green pulls up and is flat footed, Kucherov shovels the puck towards Point and breaks towards the net drawing Green back towards the front with him.
With Green getting a bit of a head start back towards the net, Kucherov pulls up and moves down towards Point setting up a pick on Zetterberg. The contact is minimal, not enough to draw an interference penalty especially in overtime, but it’s enough to disrupt Zetterberg as he gets his stick tangled up in Kucherov. This gives Point some free space as Green has retreated to the front of the net.
Kucherov and Zetterberg get untangled in the corner while Point comes in with the puck to challenge Petr Mrazek. Meanwhile, Hedman is coming down from the right point to give Point an passing option at the far post and to keep Mrazek guessing on where the puck is going to go.
Green moves out from the net to challenge Point as he cuts across the slot. As a right hander, Point is putting himself into a great position to take a high danger shot from a great scoring spot. Hedman continues to creep in from the right side and Kucherov has beaten Zetterberg back into the play. Kucherov taps his stick on the ice a couple times to let Point know he’s coming.
Seeing Kucherov coming to the front of the net, Point makes the pass through Green’s five-hole and right on to Kucherov’s stick. Kucherov angles his stick as the puck gets to him. Mrazek has recognized what’s happening and desperately reaches out with his right pad and blocker to try to stop the puck. Kucherov gets the angle right and puts it in just under the cross bar for the game winner.
Then let the celebrations begin.
It didn’t take long for the play to develop. But in it, you can see the creativity by both Kucherov and Point. From the time Kucherov got the puck, Point knew to work immediately to get open and give Kucherov an option. Meanwhile, Hedman was also smart in working back to the other side. Kucherov had only three options with what to do with the puck. He could spin away from Green and take it back towards the blue line, he could pass it to Point, or he could rim it around the boards to Hedman on the far side.
Once he passed it to Point, he quickly decided to do what he could to produce some room for the youngster. It was a simple pick and he was able to get away with it without being penalized. Point used his feet to continue to create room for himself and quickly got himself into prime scoring position. With Hedman creeping down to give him an option on one side, and Kucherov coming back into the play from the other side, Mrazek couldn’t cheat towards any of the three possibilities.
In the end, he got beat by the vision of Point to make an instant decision on where to go with the puck and him executing the pass perfectly to give Kucherov the chance at the tip-in. Kucherov has terrific hands and hand-eye coordination that allowed him to tip the puck at the right angle to get it at the net and under the cross-bar.
The whole play from the time Kucherov got the puck to when it was in the back of the net was less than eight seconds.