Kucherov is 5th player in NHL to reach 100 assists as Lighting beat Matthews, Maple Leafs 6-4

0
788
Kucherov Makes History In Lightning Win
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, right, celebrates after assisting on a goal by center Brayden Point, left, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Tampa, Fla. The assist was Kucherov's 100th of the season. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Auston Matthews came up empty in his bid to become the ninth player in NHL history to score 70 goals in a season, but Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov became the fifth player to have a 100-assist season as the Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4 on Wednesday night.

Matthews was denied on all seven first-period shots by 29-year-old rookie goalie Matt Tomkins, then rocketed a shot off the post midway through the second period. Tomkins finished with 34 saves, including 12 on Matthews, in his sixth NHL start.

“I wanted it, for sure, but it just wasn’t meant to be,” said Matthews, who went scoreless on back-to-back nights against the Florida Panthers and Lightning. “The most important thing is the team and the team’s success, making sure I’m pulling my weight as a leader on this team and help the team win. That’s where my focus is at.”

Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said there’s more to Matthews’ game than putting the puck in the net.

“He’s played so tremendously well,” Keefe said. “I know there’s been a lot of focus on him reaching 70 goals; you kind of lose sight of how well he’s played. The way he’s played these last two games — give him those types of chances and those types of shots, and he could have had 75. It wasn’t meant to be, and that’s OK — 69 is an unbelievable season.”TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Auston Matthews came up empty in his bid to become the ninth player in NHL history to score 70 goals in a season, but Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov became the fifth player to have a 100-assist season as the Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4 on Wednesday night.

Matthews was denied on all seven first-period shots by 29-year-old rookie goalie Matt Tomkins, then rocketed a shot off the post midway through the second period. Tomkins finished with 34 saves, including 12 on Matthews, in his sixth NHL start.“I wanted it, for sure, but it just wasn’t meant to be,” said Matthews, who went scoreless on back-to-back nights against the Florida Panthers and Lightning. “The most important thing is the team and the team’s success, making sure I’m pulling my weight as a leader on this team and help the team win. That’s where my focus is at.”Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said there’s more to Matthews’ game than putting the puck in the net.“He’s played so tremendously well,” Keefe said. “I know there’s been a lot of focus on him reaching 70 goals; you kind of lose sight of how well he’s played. The way he’s played these last two games — give him those types of chances and those types of shots, and he could have had 75. It wasn’t meant to be, and that’s OK — 69 is an unbelievable season.”