Lightning All-Star Kucherov Makes NHL History
Despite the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Atlantic Division losing to the Pacific Division in the National Hockey League All Star final game, there were some memorable moments.
There was the return of former Lightning player Brian Boyle, now a forward for the New Jersey Devils. He was a Tampa fan favorite while playing here (2014-2017) and was welcomed back with a standing ovation followed by thunderous cheers every time he took the ice.
Another unforgettable moment came during the closing minutes of the semi-final game Sunday when the Atlantic Division, coached by the Lightning’s Jon Cooper, faced off against the Metropolitan Division.
With just minutes to go, Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov came streaking down the ice toward Braden Holtby, the Metropolitan team goalie. Kucherov made a fake move to the left - all the while - the puck continued to slide straight and slipped through the goalie's legs.
It was Kucherov’s third goal during the game and it made history as the first ever “hat trick” in an NHL 3 on 3 All Star Game format.
“I’ve been in a little slump. So to get back and score is a great feeling,” said a modest Kucherov, who currently leads the league in points for combined goals and assists.
Adding to the moment were his teammates who threw their hockey helmets onto to ice in a gesture similar to the hockey tradition of a fan throwing a hat into the rink when a player scores three goals.
“All the guys were onboard and it was pretty cool when it happened,” Cooper said.
The All Star Game is now history. Cooper said it’s time to dig in for the team's final 33 games as they make a run for the Stanley Cup.