TAMPA – Any idea that Nikita Kucherov dies away at a time of year when the Tampa Bay Lightning needed him most is a distant memory of his performance against New Jersey Devils in the first round of the Eastern Conference
Kucherov, who scored two goals, three assists and a minus 3 in his last eight games of the regular season, was on a mission after launching the Stanley Cup playoffs. The 24-year-old striker passed the Lightning to the Devils in their Best of 7 series, scoring a 10-point performance (five goals, five assists) in the 3-1 win in Game 5 Amalie Arena on Saturday
[CONNECTED: Complete Blitz vs. Devil Serial coverage ]|
Kucherov scored, passed and even threw his weight around to provide the flash with an emotional spark in each game. He has a five-play playoff point series that includes four power play points, three hits, six hits and five takeaways.
"It feels great, especially at home for our fans," said Kucherov. "I think we played well defensively and responsibly, and teams that play well on the defensive can do well."
Kucherov scored a blistering record for most points in a playoff series (10). The final score of nine points last reached Tyler Johnson (four goals, five assists) in a victory in seven games against the New York Rangers in the final of the Eastern Conference 2015.
Video: NJD @ TBL, Gm5: Kucherov beats Schneider off the point
"I thought he raised his game in the series, there's no question," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "This line (JT Miller, [StevenStamkos Kucherov) contributed to the power game in Game 1 and Game 2, but during the series they increased their 5 vs. 5 game.
" Kooch was a big part from that; He had an influence. He influenced his physical play and the goals he scored. Kooch had come to the right time at a time when we needed him. "
Kucherov took second place with the most playoff points in the history of Lightning with Vincent Lecavalier. His 52 points (27 goals, 25 assists) in 50 games are 16 points behind Martin St. Louis and Lecavalier scored 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists) in 63 playoff games with the flash.
Video: TBL @ NJD, Gm4: Kucherov seals win with empty net goal
"He's just one Elitespieler and he has been shown on this stage several times in recent years, "said Lightning defensorman Anton Stralman ." He has the ability to make the big game that can ultimately win you a game or give you a playoff Win series. I am glad that he is in my team.
Kucherov is also second in the history of Lightning with 27 playoff goals, six behind St. Louis, and he has also equalized the record of St. Louis with three wins in a series Louis scored three goals in a 4: 2 victory against the Washington Capitals in the first round of the Eastern Conference 2003.
"He is an extreme competitor," said John Hynes, the coach of Devils. "He is a talent, but he is not a perimeter player. He is very strong on the puck, competes and has a good hockey sense and is the kind of offensive player one needs to succeed and a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
"Even if you control him and play him hard, he will never be deterred."
Kucherov finished third in the regular season with 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists), behind Connor McDavid (108) The Edmonton Oilers and Claude Giroux (102) The Philadelphia Flyers. He put NHL career high sums in assists, points, shots (279), average ice age (19:49) and takeaways (66).
"[Kucherov] is phenomenal," Lightning defensorman Victor Hedman said. "Above his point, the production is his game all over the ice.He is defensively responsible, gets pucks deep if he has to, but he can make those [offensive] games.Kucherov and Steven Stamkos obviously have a good one Line." and they score big goals, but at the same time they play very defensively.
Complete coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs  Birds of prey vs. avalanche
Jets vs. Wild  Golden Knights vs. Kings
Ducks against sharks
Lightning against devil
Bruins against maple leaves  Capitals Against Blue Jackets
Penguins vs. Flyer