Kucherov's dominance

For Tampa Bay, the last week was extremely difficult.

John Cooper's team suffered three consecutive defeats in the NHL regular season and, although they remained in the top eight in the East, allowed their opponents to get closer to them in the standings.

And hardly anyone could be surprised that at the same moment Nikita Kucherov had a not very successful period, thanks to whose genius the Lightning remain afloat this season.

In the meetings with Florida and Washington, he assisted his partners only once each and was unable to save them from fiasco, and in the confrontation with Ottawa, his scoring streak of ten matches was completely interrupted.

Therefore, during a visit to the Islanders, Kucherov decided not to limit himself to one assist and, for the 82nd time in his career, scored three points in a game, carefully distributing them over periods.

In the first, he completed a positional attack with a devastating flick from the blue line, and in the second, he brought Brayden Point into the shooting position.

The Canadian rushed forward along the left edge, but lost the puck in the struggle, but the Russian quickly returned it and helped make the score big - 3:0.

The Islanders perked up and subsequently even reduced the gap to a minimum, but it didn’t go to overtime.

And again thanks to Kucherov, with the assistance of Victor Hedman, who organized the fourth goal.

No, the Russian did not take part in the hustle and bustle near the boards, but he was the first to receive the rebound and passed it to the Swede without looking.

And he had already thrown Luke Glendening into the breakthrough, who could only hit the empty target - 4:2.

Thus, Kucherov was not only recognized as the first star of the meeting, but also broke the 60-pass bar for the fourth time during the regular season.

Among active hockey players, only three managed this - Connor McDavid (eight), Sidney Crosby (seven) and Niklas Bäckström (five).

He also reached 98 points (37 + 61) and did not allow Nathan MacKinnon to get closer to him in the scorers race.

The Colorado leader scored an assisted hat-trick in the confrontation with Toronto, but was unable to bring victory to the team (3:4).

In the absentee duel between Russian goalkeepers, Ilya Samsonov gained the upper hand.

But if the Maple Leafs goalkeeper and his opponent Alexander Georgiev performed imperfectly and reflected less than 90% of shots, then Andrei Vasilevsky pleased the fans with a great performance.

In the three previous matches, the Vezina Trophy winner looked unimportant and could not support Kucherov, who was fighting almost alone, but this time he was excellent and failed to cope with only two out of 34 “shots” on target (94.1%).

Kaprizov's masterpieces

In addition to Kucherov, the leader of Minnesota, who distinguished himself in the eighth meeting in a row, also applied for the title of the main Russian star of the day in the NHL.

During this period, Kirill Kaprizov scored as many as 18 (7 + 11) points, and this time Seattle fell under his hot hand.

The hosts got off to a good start and took the lead in the 36th second, but then conceded five goals in a row.

And three of them were abandoned largely thanks to the domestic forward.

Kaprizov did not follow in Kucherov’s footsteps and did not prolong the pleasure, giving a short but very bright nine-minute segment.

During it, he scored twice himself, and in between that he brought Matt Boldy into the striking position, who effectively dealt with not only the defender, but also the goalkeeper.

By the way, in the third period, “Kraken” nevertheless reduced the score gap, thanks to which the winning goal was not a Russian, but an American (5:2).

Kaprizov replenished his sniper account in an equally elegant, and in the first case, even in a somewhat mocking style.

Together with Mats Zuccarello, they arranged a pass behind the goal and literally pulled Joey Daccord, after which Kirill, with a subtle movement, pushed the puck into the net between the backboard and the post.

And then he created a real masterpiece.

Having received a pass in his zone, the Russian rushed across the entire court at high speed and hit the near corner.

As a result, Kaprizov eclipsed Zuccarello, who scored the assistant poker, and was recognized as the first star of the match, and for the third time in his career he reached the mark of 60 (24 + 36) points for the season.

And now shares 17th place in the list of top scorers with Sebastian Aho and Cale Makar.

Ovechkin and Rangers records

Unlike Kucherov and Kaprizov, Alexander Ovechkin was unable to help the team gain the upper hand.

The Washington captain was left without points in the confrontation with Florida (2:3) and did not extend his scoring streak of ten meetings.

And this is doubly offensive, because on this day he took to the ice for the 1400th time in the NHL regular season, which no Russian has ever achieved.

At the moment, he is in 41st place in terms of the number of matches played in the league, but before the end of the championship he can overtake a number of legends and rise to 33rd.

It is currently held by Pat Verbeek (1424).

In turn, this game day was significant for the Rangers.

Peter Laviolette's team, although not without difficulty, broke the resistance of Philadelphia on the road (2:1) and won a record tenth victory in a row in the championship.

Previously, New Yorkers succeeded in this only twice - in 1939 and 1973.

The main creators of the historic triumph were Alexi Lafreniere, Matt Rempe and Igor Shesterkin.

The first two scored once each, while the Russian goalkeeper made 39 saves and almost scored his second goal of the tournament.

True, the experts did not appreciate this and recognized him only as the third star.

As for Artemy Panarin, he followed Ovechkin’s example and retreated a little into the shadows, limiting himself to only two hits on target.

And although he did not miss fifth place in the scorers race (32 + 46), he allowed the pursuer to close the gap.

Now only two points separate him from Auston Matthews and JT Miller.

But two other Russians showed their dispatcher skills.

But if Andrei Svechnikov’s pass did not save Carolina from losing to Dallas (1:2), then Nikita Zadorov’s pass helped Vancouver make a comeback in the meeting with Boston.

At the end of the third period, Rick Toquette's team restored parity, and in overtime they put the squeeze on their competitors in the fight for the President's Cup.