Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist in the Tampa Bay Lightning's 4-0 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Amalie Arena on Tuesday to become the first player this season to reach 70 points.
Kucherov, who leads the NHL with 71 points (21 goals, 50 assists) hit the 70-point mark in his 43rd game of the season. That's 13 games faster than he did it in 2017-18, when he had 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists) in 80 games. The sixth-year forward became the first NHL player to reach 70 points within his team's first 43 games in a season since Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1999-2000. Jagr did it in his 38th game played and the 39th for the Penguins.
Kucherov also became the 10th player in NHL history to accumulate 50 assists within his team's first 43 games of a season. It's the first time that's happened since 1995-96, when Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Jagr and Ron Francis all did it.
Tampa Bay (33-8-2) has won eight consecutive home games since a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 27. Tampa Bay's 68 points are 10 more than the next-closest teams, the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights. The Lightning are on pace to finish with 130 points, which would be the most in the NHL since the Detroit Red Wings had 131 in 1995-96.
The Lightning are the only division leader with a margin of more than two points; they're 12 points ahead of the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. The Washington Capitals (26-12-4) hold a two-point advantage on the Penguins (24-13-6) in the Metropolitan; the Winnipeg Jets (27-13-2) are one point ahead of the Nashville Predators (26-15-3) in the Central; and the Flames (27-13-4) and Golden Knights (27-15-4) are even in points atop the Pacific Division, one point ahead of the San Jose Sharks (25-13-7).
Four points separate the Flames (58 points), second in the NHL standings, and the 10th place Penguins (54 points).
Video: CBJ@TBL: Kucherov buries Johnson's feed on the rush
Defensemen of all ages piling up points
Two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson of the Sharks and Stanley Cup champion John Carlson of the Capitals each surpassed the 40-point mark on Tuesday, while Miro Heiskanen of the Dallas Stars joined fellow teenage rookie defenseman Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres in the 20-point club.
Karlsson had three assists in San Jose's 7-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers at SAP Center, giving him at least one point and one assist in each of the past 14 games he's played in, dating to Dec. 7. Those are the longest streaks by any player in Sharks history.
That includes a six-game run since Dec. 29 that has seen Karlsson become the first defenseman to have at least 15 points (one goal, 14 assists) in a span of six team games since 2011-12, when he did it with the Ottawa Senators. The only other defenseman to achieve the feat since 1993-94 was Mike Green with the Capitals in 2008-09.
Karlsson also became the fifth defenseman in NHL history to have assists in at least 14 consecutive games he's played in. He's the 13th defenseman in League history, and the sixth since 1990-91, to have at least one point in at least 14 consecutive games he's played in within a season.
Carlson had two assists in Washington's 5-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers at Capital One Arena for his 14th multipoint game of the season, tying him with San Jose's Brent Burns for the most among NHL defensemen. Carlson, who has 41 points (six goals, 35 assists) is one of five NHL defensemen with at least 40 points, a group led by Burns with 49 points (eight goals, 41 assists). Carlson became the fourth Capitals defenseman to reach 40 points within his first 41 games of a season, joining Green (38 games played in 2008-09; 41 in 2009-10), Al Iafrate (40 games, 1992-93) and Kevin Hatcher (41 games, 1990-91).
Dahlin (18 years, 270 days) and Heiskanen (19 years, 174 days) each had an assist Tuesday. Dahlin, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, has 21 points (four goals, 17 assists), and Heiskanen, taken No. 3 in the 2017 NHL Draft, has 20 (nine goals, 11 assists). This is the fifth time in the past six seasons that multiple teenage defensemen have had at least 20 points.
Fleury, Murray continue streaks
Former Pittsburgh teammates Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray each extended personal streaks Tuesday.
Fleury made 27 saves for the Vegas Golden Knights in a 4-2 win against the New York Rangers at T-Mobile Arena and improved to 9-0-3 in his past 12 games. Fleury's NHL career-best point streak is 14 games; he went 12-0-2 from Jan. 13 to Feb. 16, 2007, and 13-0-1 from Nov. 12 to Dec. 11, 2010.
The Golden Knights extended their winning streak to seven games and their point streak to 10 (8-0-2), the longest active such runs in the NHL. Also, Vegas is 10-0-2 in its past 12 home games, the longest streak by any team this season.
Murray is 8-0-0 dating to Dec. 15 after making 36 saves to help the Penguins win 5-1 against the Florida Panthers at PPG Paints Arena. He has a 1.24 goals-against average, a .963 save percentage and two shutouts during that eight-game span. Murray is the fourth goalie in Penguins history to have a winning streak of at least eight games, and the first since Fleury won eight in a row in 2012-13.
Video: FLA@PIT: Murray lifts his left pad to rob McCann
Crosby scores 20th goal, nears top 50 all-time NHL scorers
Center Sidney Crosby capped Pittsburgh's victory with his 20th goal of the season. It's his sixth consecutive 20-goal season and the 12th of his NHL career, tying him with Mario Lemieux for the most in Penguins history. He also had an assist for the 350th multipoint game of his NHL career.
Crosby has 1,169 points (431 goals, 738 assists) in 904 games played. He's tied with Washington's Alex Ovechkin (637 goals, 532 assists in 1,045 games) for 51st place on the NHL all-time points list. They are one point behind Bobby Hull (1,170 points in 1,063 games), for 50th place.
Video: FLA@PIT: Crosby tips in 20th goal to tie Lemieux