In what can only be classified as a historic season, Tampa Bay Lightning’s superstar Right Winger Nikita Kucherov (86) became the fastest NHL player to 100 points (62 Games) since the 1996-97 season, when “Super” Mario Lemieux did the same for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is the sixth player in NHL history to record their 100th point in 62 games or less. In doing so, Kucherov joins the likes of Mario Lemieux (38 Games, 61 Games), Jaromir Jagr (52 Games), Ron Francis (61 Games) and Wayne Gretzky (56 Games).
Kucherov, 25, has not only tied NHL records, he is setting franchise records for Tampa Bay, becoming the first player in Lightning history to record back-to-back 100-point seasons. Kucherov is the only player in the National Hockey League with 100 points so far this season, with Chicago Blackhawk’s Patrick Kane a distant second with 92 points. Overall, Kucherov has 30 goals and 70 assists on the season. He now has four consecutive seasons with at least 30 goals and is one of three Tampa Bay players (Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos) among the NHL’s top 10 scorers this season.
Kucherov’s 100th point came on a second period, two-on-one, breakaway goal (30) against the Buffalo Sabres to even the score 1-1 in Thursday night’s match, and ultimately propel the team to a 2-1 win and their 10th consecutive victory. As a result of the victory Thursday, The Tampa Bay Lightning maintain their commanding lead over the Eastern Conference (and NHL overall) at 47-11-4. Notably, the Tampa Bay Lightning are now the fastest team to reach 47 wins in NHL history and are projected to eclipse the 1996 Detroit Red Wings single season win record of 62 games. The Lightning will need to finish the season 16-4 to surpass the Red Wings (15-5 to tie them for the record).
When asked about the achievement, Kucherov stated “It was a special moment. I thought we played really well, and, most importantly it was two points for us”, making reference to Tampa’s position in the NHL standings. In response to his superstar right winger’s milestone, Lightning coach Jon Cooper stated, “To do it in 62 games, I think in the last 20 years, he’s in some pretty elite company. He’s doing it on a team that’s having a lot of success, and he’s a huge part of that.” At his current pace, Kucherov is projected for 132 points at the end of the regular season; the most since Mario Lemieux (161) and Jaromir Jagr’s (149) astonishing production in the 1995-96 season.
Should Nitika Kucherov’s season continue at its current pace, there will be an extremely compelling argument to be made in favor of awarding him the 2019 Hart Memorial Trophy.