Nikita Kucherov added to his 2016 playoff-leading goal total on Friday, and the timing could not have been better for the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road.
Kucherov tied the game in the third period with his eighth goal of these playoffs (NHL.com lists his shooting percentage at 25 per cent) and Jason Garrison won it in overtime, giving the Lightning another victory in Brooklyn as they took a commanding 3-1 lead in this series against the New York Islanders.
Point production is nothing new for the 22-year-old Kucherov.
He’s coming off a 30-goal regular season. He averaged just below a point per game last post-season as Tampa Bay made it to the Stanley Cup Final. He scored 10 goals in the process. This year? He’s played in nine playoff games and has eight goals, which means he could shatter his previous career best at this time of year.
And his scoring has been a huge bonus for the Lightning without Steven Stamkos.
Meanwhile, the Islanders need a win to save their season. They played well in both Games 3 and 4 but couldn’t finish off the opposition. That included being unable to sustain a terrific start Friday.
As for their star, John Tavares, he hasn’t hit the score sheet in three straight games, despite strong puck possession numbers, according to hockeystats.ca.