Connect with us


Nikita Kucherov makes history in an exciting regular season finale

All eyes were on Nikita Kucherov as he was one assist away from 100 on the season and have a place in league history. Just the other day Connor McDavid became the fourth player in NHL history with 100 assists in a season. Tonight it was Kucherov’s turn to be added to that elusive list. He would eclipse that mark in a thrilling finale against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Auston Matthews was also chasing history with one goal shy of 70 on the season. Standing in his way was Matt Tomkins who got the start with Andrei Vasilevskiy resting for the playoffs. Prior to the puck drop Victor Hedman was taken out of the lineup due to illness leaving Tampa with only seven defensemen. Toronto tried to get a late rally going that would ultimately fall short in a game that will be hard to forget for anyone in attendance.


Setting the stage early

To begin, Matt Tomkins was tested immediately from an early chance by Auston Matthews. Then, Darren Raddysh nearly opened up the scoring, but his shot went wide of the net. Minutes later it would be the Lightning that score the opening goal. A well-timed pass from Anthony Duclair allowed Nick Paul to bury the puck past Martin Jones. The scoring did not stop there as Kucherov slipped by the defense and scored with ease to extend the lead 2-0. Lightning continued to apply pressure and pick apart the sloppy Toronto defense. With 9:45 left in the period Toronto went on the power play in hopes of lighting the lamp. This was the Maple Leafs best chance at scoring, but Tomkins remained sharp, and the power play ended with no damage done.

Toronto nabs one back

That power play gave Toronto the spark they needed on offense after having a slow start to the period. Soon after, Maple Leafs got on the scoring board with a goal from Ryan Reaves to cut the Bolts lead 2-1. Paul nearly scored his second of the game, but the puck rang off the post as now the Lightning looked to answer the Reaves goal. With a few minutes to go the scoring stalled and it became a back-and-forth affair with the puck. With 1:06 left in the period Maple Leafs received their second power play of the game. Period ended with the score still 2-1 and the Leafs will have leftover time on the man-advantage.

Tomkins remains solid in net

Just like the first period Tomkins was tested immediately and again Toronto could not score. Next, Lightning killed off the penalty and it was back to even strength. Again, the game went silent for a bit until the Lightning added to their lead. Paul fed the puck to Anthony Duclair for the easy goal and make it 3-1 Lightning. Afterwards, Lightning received their first power play of the night with twelve minutes to go in the period. Lightning could not get much going on the power play and the score remained 3-1.

Chasing history

Momentum did not swing on any side of the ice in particular, but it was clear had control of the game. Another power play was awarded to the Lightning with six minutes to go as they looked to add another goal to their lead. As the power play expired Toronto had a prime opportunity to score on an odd man rush but Tomkins miraculously made the save keeping the two-goal lead intact. Following a save by Jones a scrum occurred. Conor Timmins was given a minor for elbowing Mitchell Chaffee. He waas also given a minor for rouging against Matt Dumba. Following, Dumba was given a minor for rouging Timmins, but the Lightning still received a power play due to the initial call on Timmins. On said power play, the moment everyone was waiting for finally happened.

Kucherov nets his 100th assist

On the power play Bryaden Point scored to make it a 4-1 game and Kucherov made history. With an assist on the Point goal Nikita Kucherov became the fifth player in NHL history with 100 assists in a season. He also broke the record for most assists in a single season by a winger. MVP chants continued to flood the arena as the bench erupted with joy. Paul made sure to immediately grab that puck and keep it from going elsewhere. Brandon Hagel scored not far after the Point goal to give Tampa a commanding 5-1 lead. As the period ended Lightning drew a penalty and would start the third period on the power play leading by four goals.

More goals to be had

Unfortunately, Lightning could not add to their already large lead on the power play to start the third period. At this point it did not matter as they are dominating the Leafs in the last regular season game. Toronto went on the power play for a third time and just hoped to show any signs of life. Tomkins continued to answer Matthews as he could not score on the power play keeping the score 5-1. At this point, Tampa just contained the Leafs offense they best they could and eliminate any hopes of coming alive. With just over half the period to go, Tampa continued to pile on the points. Tanner Jeannot joined the scoring party to make it 6-1 Lightning with about 8 minutes to go in the game.


Toronto attempts a comeback that falls short

On a delayed penalty call TJ Brodie scored to make it 6-2 Lightning. The goal happened to be Brodie’s first of the season in the last game of the regular season. Once again, Toronto finds another goal this time from Pontus Holmberg to make it a 6-3 game. Just under three minutes left in the period is when Toronto pulled Jones to get the extra attacker on. Fortunately for the Maple Leafs it paid off as John Tavares scored to make it 6-4. Overall, Lightning went on to win the game and end the regular season on a high note. Battle of Florida will begin on Sunday afternoon in Sunrise for Game 1.


Three stars of the game

1st star: Nikita Kucherov – 1 goal and 1 assist (his 1ooth of the season)

2nd star: Brandon Hagel – 1 goal and 1 assist

3rd star: Matt Tomkins – Saved 34 of 38 shots faced

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *