Lightning Round: Nikita Kucherov plays in his 600th game

The Bolts lost to the Jets without Victor Hedman

Yesterday’s game itself didn’t give Tampa Bay Lightning fans many opportunities to celebrate, but there was still some positive moments such as Nikita Kucherov, playing in his 600th career NHL game. The 29-year-old Russian winger, who was recently selected for his 4th career All-Star game, celebrated reaching this milestone with his 14th goal of the season, ending his five-game goal drought.

Many words have been said about Kucherov and his place in the franchise history, let’s just take a quick look at his numbers after his 600th career game in the NHL. Nikita Kucherov was selected as the 58th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, making his debut in the Lightning jersey two years later on November 25, 2013, when he scored his first NHL goal on his first shot during his first shift against the future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. After nine years in the NHL, Kucherov played in 600 regular season games, recording 260 goals and 411 assists for total of 671 points. That amount could have been much higher, if Kucherov didn’t miss the whole 2020-21 regular season and half of the 2021-22 season, but given how the things turned out for the Lightning in those years, don’t think there’s much sorrow about it.

Kucherov’s 128 points in 2018-19 season is still the highest amount of points in a single season amongst active NHL players and the highest result since Mario Lemieux scored 161 points during 1995-96 regular season. During that 2018-19 regular season Kucherov also won only Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award.

Nikita Kucherov’s 600 regular season games is eight most in the Lightning history, he’s also 28 games behind Ondrej Palat and has an opportunity to pass him before the end of this regular season. He’s fourth in franchise history in both total goals (260) and power play goals (72) and also tied for the fourth place with Brayden Point for most game-winning goals (41). His 411 career assists rank fifth in the Lightning history and his 671 total points rank fourth, trailing only to Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier.

Kucherov’s franchise records in playoffs are even more ridiculous as he currently holds the record for most playoff goals in the Lightning history (52), assists (102) and points (154), leading the second best Ondrej Palat by 60 points. His 154 playoff points is already 28th result in the NHL history and third-best amongst active players. Ironically enough, even after scoring 93 points over the three latest playoffs and winning two Stanley Cup over this time, Nikita Kucherov still never won a Conn Smythe Trophy.

Kucherov is also swiftly climbing up amongst his countrymen. He’s currently 14th in points amongst all Russian players in the NHL history, 16th in assists and 12th in goals, just two goals behind Vladimir Tarasenko. In playoffs he’s already third in total goals, assists and points amongst all Russian players.

This season Kucherov is currently tied with Jason Robertson and Tage Thompson for third best result in the NHL with 55 points.

Without Victor Hedman, who returned to Tampa for the birth of his second child, the Lightning were defeated 4-2 by the Winnipeg Jets in the final game of their road trip [Raw Charge]

The Winnipeg Jets scored twice on 5-on-3 penalties and added a late empty net, shorthanded goal despite being down two skaters as they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. In all, the Jets had six power plays as the Lightning struggled to stay out of the penalty box. Despite having an advantage at even strength, the Bolts weren’t able to turn their chances into goals. Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov had the lone goals for the Lightning.

Jon Cooper strongly criticized his team for the lack of discipline in his postgame meeting with the media.

The Syracuse Crunch fell to the Belleville Senators 3-2 in a shootout on Friday’s night. Max Lagace stopped 30 shots on that night, while Phil Myers and Shawn Element scored for Syracuse.

The Orlando Solar Bears were also defeated by the Florida Everblades yesterday.

Hockey News

The results of all six games from yesterday in the NHL:

The Seattle Kraken reassigned Shawn Wright to the OHL after returning from the latest World Juniors.

The Montreal Canadiens Kaiden Guhle is out for at least eight weeks with a knee injury.