If the Tampa Bay Lightning end up falling short of the postseason one player you will not be able to blame is forward Nikita Kucherov.
Kucherov has spent the past two months trying to almost single handedly drag the team back into playoff contention (while also inserting his name into the MVP debate) with one of the best offensive seasons of any player in the league.
He was at it again on Friday night in the first period of their game against the Montreal Canadiens when he recorded an assist on a Yanni Gourde goal to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead, and then scored one of his own with just under 10 seconds to play in the period when he beat Carey Price with a rocket of a shot to extend that lead to a pair of goals.
His goal, which you can see in the video above, is his 40th of the season and makes him just the second player in the league to reach the 40-goal make this season. With Brad Marchand suspended for Boston’s final regular season game, Auston Matthews (39 with two games to play) and Vladimir Tarasenko (38 with two games to play) would seem to be the only other players with a real chance to hit that mark.
Kucherov now trails Sidney Crosby by three goals for the league lead. For Kucherov it is his first 40-goal season in the NHL and he did it in a year where he missed eight games.
He entered the night sixth in the the league in total points. His 1.15 points per game average is currently the fifth best mark in the league behind only Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos (in only 17 games) and Evgeni Malkin.