On July 2, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens to take a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final. Nikita Kucherov’s elite talent was on full display once again, tallying a goal and an assist. He now has eight goals and 32 points this postseason, playing at an elite level despite missing the regular season due to hip surgery. Despite another impressive performance in Game 3, Kucherov spoke of his team’s recent success stating,
“We have a game plan, right, and everybody’s buying in and everybody’s doing their job and when everybody’s doing their job, it makes it easier and we all play a full 60 minutes the right way and that’s what we’re doing right now.”– Nikita Kucherov
This isn’t the first time that Kucherov has found his rhythm during the summer months. In fact, he has been dominant in the playoffs since he entered the league. Let’s take a look at where he ranks in the NHL postseason record books.
Kucherov was drafted in the second round, 58th overall of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL regular season and postseason debut during the 2013-14 season. He never looked back, recording the most playoff goals, assists, and points by any skater in the league since.
It is not even just that the number of points Kucherov has scored is impressive, but the number of multi-point games he has had, too. In 111 postseason games, he has scored multiple points in 36 of them. That ranks him fourth among active players, tied with Patrick Kane.
In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, Kucherov scored two goals and an assist. In addition to quenching any fears that he could have a lingering injury from the previous series, he recorded his 17th playoff game with three points or more. This is the 12th-most all-time, tied with Phil Esposito. Kucherov trails Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, and Joe Sakic by one game. Wayne Gretzky leads the category by a substantial margin, recording 59 postseason games with three points or more. Mark Messier has the second-most all-time, trailing Gretzky by 29 games.
Heading into Game 4 against Montreal, Kucherov could climb the ranks among wingers, too. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a winger has scored more than 32 points just five times. One of those five was Kucherov himself, scoring 34 points during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With at least one game remaining, Kucherov will look to take sole possession of sixth place for the most playoff points among active players. He is currently tied with Patrick Marleau at 127 points.
Guess Who’s Back, Back Again
It took Kucherov just 19 games to reach the 30-point mark this postseason. He and Evgeni Malkin are the only players to reach 30 points that quickly in the last 25 seasons. Malkin also reached the mark in 19 games. Kucherov is just the fifth NHL player to record 30 points in multiple playoffs. Furthermore, Kucherov is only the third player in NHL history to score 30 points in consecutive postseasons. In doing so, he joins the elite company of Gretzky, who did it twice, and Lemieux.
Kucherov is one of the best goal scorers of his generation. The 28-year-old forward looks like he has plenty left in the tank, too. This is great news for the Lightning, who have him under contract for six more seasons.
On Monday, the Lightning will look to hoist the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive season. Kucherov would need a big game to continue climbing the record books, but his focus is undoubtedly on securing another trophy for Tampa. Who knows, he may even add the Conn Smythe Trophy to his awards cabinet. Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final is set to take place at 8 PM EST at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Andrew is a freelance writer who covers the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Hockey Writers. He is a passionate hockey fan who grew up near Tampa, Florida. He is a husband, father to a Golden Retriever, and is studying to be a Physician Assistant. Follow me on Twitter: @Andrew_Mulville