The Buzzer: More ludicrous numbers for Kucherov, Lightning

Three Stars

1. Nikita Kucherov

You could probably give the overall nod to Yanni Gourde. While Kucherov’s three points were all assists, Gourde got to three with two goals and one assist.

But Kucherov’s larger accomplishments demand the greater mention. With these three points, Kucherov somehow has 125 points in 2018-19, with three games to spare. Lightning coach Jon Cooper will need to weigh allowing Kucherov to chase new highs with the lure of rest, as the Bolts have locked up everything for … a while now.

Kucherov’s 125 points ties Joe Thornton‘s 125 from 2005-06 for the best point total since the NHL began using a salary cap (you know, after the full season lost in 2004-05, grumble grumble). You have to go back to Jaromir Jagr’s 1998-99 season, when Jagr scored 127 points in 81 games, to find a higher total that 125 points.

So, sorry, Yanni, but that no-look assist was better than a Night at the Acropolis.

2. Aleksander Barkov

Kucherov wasn’t the only one who hit some gaudy numbers on Monday, although Barkov’s are a bit more specific — and Barkov can only celebrate so much, as his Panthers finish another season without the playoffs, and with little motivation beyond being spoilers.

(Granted, they went almost down to the wire in 2017-18.)

Barkov collected three assists as the Panthers denied the Capitals a chance to lock down the Metropolitan Division title. Those three assists push Barkov’s point total to 94. That’s not just a career-high for Barkov; it also ties the most points generated by a Panthers player, as Pavel Bure hit 94 in just 74 games in 1999-200. (No, your young[er?] eyes weren’t lying to you; Jagr and Bure really were amazing.)

Barkov’s been underrated long enough that most casual fans know that he’s a big deal, but it’s still a sin that he’s only played beyond game 82 once in his already-impressive career.

3. Dylan Strome

Strome’s been a big reason why Chicago has been able to keep their playoff hopes – faint or not – alive, as he’s been tremendous since being traded from the Coyotes. The third pick of the 2015 NHL Draft scored two goals and one assist for three points, helping the Blackhawks push the Winnipeg Jets to overtime before the Jets eventually won.

This pushes Strome to 19 goals and 54 points in 75 games, with 48 of those points coming in his 55 points with the Blackhawks.

Considering how people were wondering if Strome might be a bust, this is a comforting trend for player and the Blackhawks, even if they’re just about certain to fall short of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Highlights of the Night

Kevin Hayes scored the overtime game-winner for the Jets against the Blackhawks, and it was pretty sweet. This is Hayes’ first OT goal at the NHL level, by the way.

That Gourde assist to Brayden Point:

Factoids

Scores

Panthers 5, Capitals 3
Devils 4, Rangers 2
Maple Leafs 2, Islanders 1
Lightning 5, Senators 2
Blues 3, Avalanche 2 (SO)
Jets 4, Blackhawks 3 (OT)
Golden Knights 3, Oilers 1
Flames 7, Kings 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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