Nikita Kucherov recorded four points on Thursday, but that’s becoming just another game for him. He’s gotten at least that many points in three of his last five contests. He also has 51 points in his last 23 games alone.
To say that Kucherov is leading the scoring race is unnecessary at this point. He has 20 goals and 69 points through 41 games. It would be shocking if anyone was doing better than that. It’s shocking that even Kucherov is doing that well.
The question now is what we should expect from Kucherov in the second half. It seems unlikely that he can maintain this pace, but we’re also in largely uncharted territory. Since 1995-96 when the league went to 82 games, there have only been four occasions when a player has done better through the first half of the campaign. The ones that did better were Mario Lemieux in 1995-96 (93 points), Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96 (84 points), Jagr in 1999-2000 (72 points), and Lemieux in 1996-97 (70 points), per TSN’s StatsCentre. As you’ll note though, those are all instances from another era. We haven’t seen a player this good through 41 games in the salary cap NHL.
In fact, there’s only one player who can match Kucherov in terms of points-per-game in this era (min. 10 games played). Sidney Crosby in 2011-12 had eight goals and 37 points in 22 contests, but he missed the vast majority of the campaign due to injury. Who knows how high he might have reached that season if he had been healthy. He might have ended up surpassing Joe Thornton’s 125 points in 2005-06, which currently stands as the best showing in the salary cap era, back when it was just getting started and the league was still adjusting. Kucherov might be the one to surpass that mark instead.
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MINNESOTA 4 TORONTO 3
If there’s a silver lining here for the Maple Leafs, it’s that William Nylander scored his first goal of the season. It took him 12 games, but he was rusty after missing training camp and the start of the season. Hopefully this is the start of him breaking out.
Devan Dubnyk kicked out 38 of 41 Maple Leafs shots. The game was tied at 3-3 going into the third and the Wild were outshot 19-4 in the final 20 minutes, so he deserves a lot of credit for allowing the Wild to hang onto its narrow lead.
Zach Parise scored the game-winning goal and registered an assist. He’s up to 18 goals and 35 points in 38 games.
Jared Spurgeon found the back of the net and added two assists. The Wild defenseman has five goals and 22 points in 39 contests.
BOSTON 6 CALGARY 4
Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for the Flames. That gives him 23 goals and 61 points in 42 games.
Jake DeBrusk scored a pair of goals, including the game winner. He’s up to 13 goals and 16 points in 32 games.
Brad Marchand also had two goals for the Bruins. That gives him 15 goals and 44 points in 40 contests.
Jaroslav Halak stopped 33 of 37 Flames shots. He’s 13-6-2 with a 2.36 GAA and .926 save percentage in 23 games.
BUFFALO 4 FLORIDA 3
Aleksander Barkov scored a goal and registered an assist. That gives the Panthers forward 16 goals and 41 points in 39 games.
Jeff Skinner scored two goals with the second being the game-winner. He’s up to 28 goals and 41 points in 41 games.
Sam Reinhart had a goal and an assist for the Sabres. He’s up to nine goals and 40 points in 41 contests.
Roberto Luongo stopped 29 of 33 shots last night. He dropped to 8-8-1 with a 3.24 GAA and .896 save percentage in 20 starts.
Linus Ullmark stopped 35 of 38 shots in his fourth straight win. He has a 9-1-3 record, 2.73 GAA, and .922 save percentage in 14 starts.
CAROLINA 6 PHILADELPHIA 3
Teuvo Teravainen scored twice and registered an assist. The Hurricanes forward has 10 goals and 32 points in 39 contests.
Dougie Hamilton found the back of the net and registered an assist for Carolina. He has four goals and 12 points in 39 games.
Petr Mrazek stopped 34 of 37 Flyers shots. He’s surrendered three goals in three of his last four games.
Claude Giroux assisted on two of Philadelphia’s three goals. He’s up to 13 goals and 46 points in 40 games.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 23 of 28 shots on Thursday. He’s 1-4-1 with a 4.26 GAA and .859 save percentage in seven contests.
NY ISLANDERS 3 CHICAGO 2 (OT)
Devon Toews scored his first career goal in overtime. He was playing in his fifth career game.
The Islanders’ other two goals were scored by Mathew Barzal. He’s up to 12 goals and 38 points in 39 contests.
Dominik Kahun contributed a goal for the Blackhawks. He has six goals and 17 points in 43 games.
Collin Delia stopped 47 of a staggering 50 shots. He’s faced at least 32 shots in each of his four starts this season. He’s stepped up under that pressure though with a .952 save percentage.
Robin Lehner earned his sixth straight win by saving 19 of 21 shots. He’s 10-6-3 with a 2.13 GAA and .929 save percentage in 20 games.
MONTREAL 2 VANCOUVER 0
Carey Price returned from a lower-body injury and earned a 33-save shutout. He improved to 16-10-4 with a 2.75 GAA and .908 save percentage.
Brock Boeser fired a team-high six shots against Price. He has 13 SOG in his last two games, but didn’t score a goal over that span.
Jordie Benn scored the first and therefore game-winning goal. It was his third goal and ninth point in 40 games.
Montreal’s other goal was scored by Jonathan Drouin. He’s up to 13 goals and 33 points in 41 contests.
Jacob Markstrom stopped 25 of 27 Canadiens shots. He has a 17-11-3 record, 2.79 GAA, and .910 save percentage in 31 starts.
ST. LOUIS 5 WASHINGTON 2
Alex Ovechkin found the back of the net for Washington. It was his 30th goal and 46th point in 39 games.
Oskar Sundqvist contributed the game-winning goal. That gives him seven goals and 10 points in 30 contests this season.
Alex Pietrangelo scored a goal and registered an assist. The Blues defenseman has five goals and 13 points in 27 games.
Jake Allen stopped 23 of 25 shots last night. He has a 14-12-4 record, 3.03 GAA, and .901 save percentage in 32 contests.
Braden Holtby turned aside 37 of 42 Blues shots. He’s surrendered 11 goals over his last two starts.
TAMPA BAY 6 LOS ANGELES 2
Nikita Kucherov scored a goal and registered three assists for the Lightning. That brings him up to 20 goals and 69 points in 41 contests.
Steven Stamkos had a goal and two assists. The Lightning forward has 23 goals and 46 points in 41 games.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 of 30 Kings shots. He’s 16-3-2 with a 2.55 GAA and .924 save percentage in 21 starts.
Drew Doughty accounted for one of the Kings’ goals. It was his fourth marker and 23rd point in 42 games.
Jonathan Quick stopped 27 of 33 Lightning shots. He dropped to 6-10-2 with a 3.05 GAA and .899 save percentage in 18 starts.