Nikita Kucherov had a decent rookie season in 2013-14 with nine goals and 18 points in 52 games with Tampa Bay, but the 21-year-old has stepped up lately. He had a hat trick to lead the Lightning to a 7-3 victory over Arizona tonight.
You can watch his heroics below:
He wasn’t the only young Lightning player to step up tonight as 24-year-old Tyler Johnson recorded four assists to extend his points streak to seven games. At the time of writing, he’s tied for the league lead with 11 assists and is in a tie for fifth place in the scoring race with 12 points.
This contest was also the latest setback for Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, who now has a 4.29 GAA and .858 save percentage in six games. With numbers like those, it’s easy to throw him under the bus, but Arizona coach Dave Tippett doesn’t want to let the rest of the team off the hook.
“It’s a whole group,” Tippett said, per the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan. “Whole group – not Mike. Whole group.”
Tippett pointed to the turnovers the Coyotes’ surrendered as part of the problem. His team is now 3-4-1 this season.