Crushed by injuries over the past month, the Tampa Bay Lightning have managed to stick around in the Eastern Conference playoff race in the month of March almost entirely because of the play of forward Nikita Kucherov.
On Saturday, the league announced that his performance was enough to make him the NHL’s No. 1 star of March.
From the NHL:
Kucherov paced the NHL with 12-10-22 in 14 games, and also led the League with six power-play goals, to power the Lightning (38-29-9, 85 points) to a 10-4-1 March. He collected at least one point in 11 of his 14 outings, highlighted by eight multi-point performances as well as a five-game streak to close the month (7-4-11). Kucherov also registered his third career hat trick March 23 at BOS and second career overtime goal March 24 at DET. The 23-year-old Maykop, Russia, native – who set a Lightning record for points in one calendar month – shares second place in the NHL with 38 goals and ranks sixth overall with 80 points through 68 games this season, both career highs. His 17 power-play goals, another career high, share the League lead.
As good as those two were, no player had a month quite like the one Kucherov had in Tampa Bay, recording 22 points in 14 games to help the Lightning stay afloat inthe standings after making several trades at the deadline and losing Tyler Johnson and a number of other forwards during the month.
The 22 points mean Kucherov had a hand (either scoring or assisting) in more than 51 percent of the team’s goals in the month of March.
The Lightning went 10-4-1 during the month and enter April three points back of a playoff spot.