TAMPA, Fla — The Tampa Bay Lightning continued their spectacular season Monday night with a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in game one of the Stanley Cup Final. In the process, one Bolts player joined some exclusive company with another big game.
Only three players in NHL history have scored 30 or more points in consecutive postseasons: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and now Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov.
“That’s a heavyweight of names,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “What’s even more impressive is the era he’s doing it in. We talk about the high-flying 80s. It’s remarkable to today’s day in age where goal-scoring and getting points is at a premium.”
“I think our group recognizes it, no doubt,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “Hockey players, in general, are pretty humble. Kucherov is in no question a very humble guy.”
A humble guy that’s not so courteous to the competition. In the game one win, Kucherov scored two goals and tallied an assist in the third period breaking the game open for the Lightning.
“He wants to be a threat every time he is on the ice,” McDonagh said. “Like most players, you want to be consistent, step up and be a difference-maker for your team.”
It’s not lost on his teammates that they are sharing the ice with a superstar. Kucherov has 64 points between last year’s championship season and this year's quest for the cup.
“We’re seeing a special performance by Kucherov in the playoffs,” McDonagh said. “The job is not done in his mind. He knows he’s going to be counted on again here. Hopefully, he keeps adding to that it and joining to a great list of players in this league.”