Kucherov Joins Rare Company in Lightning’s Win Over Maple Leafs

Nikita Kucherov Celly
Photo Credit: Getty Images

In what was otherwise a meaningless game before beginning the playoffs, Nikita Kucherov joined rare company by becoming only the fifth player in NHL history to reach 100 assists in a season during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 6-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

After scoring the second goal of the game and having a number of chances to achieve a rare milestone, Kucherov finally broke through. It occurred with about three minutes remaining in the second period, when he threaded a perfect pass across to Brayden Point for a powerplay goal that made it 4-1.

He joins Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Connor McDavid as the only players to achieve this rare milestone.

Soon after Kucherov’s 100th assist was announced, earning an ovation so loud it almost took the roof off of Amalie Arena, Brandon Hagel scored on a breakaway to make it 5-1.

Nick Paul, Anthony Duclair and Tanner Jeannot each factored in the scoring for a Lightning team that had lost three of four heading into Game 82.

The Lightning played this game short handed, as top defenseman Victor Hedman was a late scratch due to illness. Luke Glendening, Haydn Fleury, Tyler Motte, Anthony Cirelli and backup goaltender Jonas Johansson also missed this game with minor injuries. The hope is that all should be ready when the Lightning open the playoffs this weekend.

With Andrei Vasilevskiy getting another rest, Matt Tomkins received another start. After falling short in a shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators six days ago, he was good in net, making 30 saves on 34 shots. In fact, he bailed the Lightning out in a couple of situations early in the middle frame with the score still tight at 2-1.

Maple Leafs star forward Auston Matthews entered the night looking to make some history of his own by scoring 70 goals. Despite a dozen or more shots on net, Tomkins and the Lightning denied him in his quest.

Next up for both teams is the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Lightning face their cross state rivals, the Florida Panthers, for the third time in the last four years. That series begins Sunday, April 21 at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise. Puck drop is scheduled for 12:30pm EST and will be nationally televised on ESPN.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Lauren Burg

Lauren Burg is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer for “Inside the Rink.” A lifelong Tampa Bay Area resident, she graduated from the University of South Florida’s world-renowned journalism program in December 2009. While in college, she discovered hockey and the Tampa Bay Lightning. She quickly became a passionate fan, attending many games over the years. She also experienced an All-Star game in 2018, numerous road games, and, most recently, the Bolts back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. Since graduating college, she’s been working hard to combine her two loves, writing and hockey, hoping to one day make that her full-time career. In her free time, she enjoys attending sporting events (both home & road when possible), taking photos, and traveling.

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