Nikita Kucherov crept up on 100 points, Mark Giordano continued his otherworldly play, a Columbus-area native finally played on home ice for the Blue Jackets, Patrick Kane kept his point (and assist) streak alive, while the Blackhawks and Senators couldn’t stop scoring.
Here are six things we learned in the NHL on Monday.
Kucherov on pace for most points since 1995-96
We know by now that Nikita Kucherov is an absolutely lethal offensive force for the Tampa Bay Lightning. But what you may not have known is that the Lightning superstar is on pace to put up the most points by a player in one season since 1995-96 — Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr finished first and second in the scoring race that campaign with 161 and 149 points, respectively.
The Russian entered Monday’s tilt against the Blue Jackets with a league-best 94 points and at that time was on pace for an impressive 130 on the season.
Given it’s Kucherov we’re talking about here, you just knew he would add to that pace. And he didn’t disappoint, scoring two goals and collecting three assists to bring his point total to 99.
After another jaw-dropping performance — which also happened to be his first career five-point game — the 25-year-old has now recorded a multi-point effort in five straight games.
Only Vincent Lecavalier has more consecutive games (eight) with two points or more in Lightning history.
Kucherov capped off his dominant game by becoming the first Lightning player ever to tally 70 assists in a season. And the team still has 22 games left.
Last goal wins in Chicago
Well, that was a wild one.
Given both the Senators and Blackhawks struggle mightily to keep the puck out of their own nets — Ottawa and Chicago entered Monday tied atop the league allowing 3.64 goals-against per game — it maybe shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise that the teams combined to allow a whopping nine goals (against four goalies) in the first period alone.
The nine combined goals marked the highest-scoring period in the NHL this season. Prior to this remarkable scoring game, eight combined goals were scored in a period on two separate occasions this season (Blackhawks vs. Devils on Jan. 14 and Canucks vs. Bruins on Nov. 8).
The highest-scoring opening period prior to Monday featured six goals, a total that has been reached on four separate occasions in 2018-19.
Much to the surprise of no one, the goal scoring wasn’t finished after the first period, as the teams wound up combining for a juicy 15 goals by night’s end, giving the Blackhawks an 8-7 win. The 15 goals tied a game between the Blue Jackets and Flames in December for the most goals in a game this season.
A big night for Jumbo
Joe Thornton has always been known as a playmaker, but on Monday night he got to be a sniper.
Jumbo Joe scored three goals to put the Sharks up 5-4 late in the third period against the Boston Bruins. It was his first hat trick since October 2010, when he scored three against Martin Brodeur and the Devils.
In 2013, Thornton famously made a bold promise if he ever scored four goals in a game so hockey fans were glued to their screens to see if the 39-year-old would do the impossible, perhaps with an empty net.
Alas, the Bruins forced overtime on a questionable goal, then won on an overtime goal from Charlie McAvoy.
Looks like Joe Thornton will be keeping his pants on after all.
As a sidenote, the three goals moved Thornton past Marian Gaborik, Patrik Elias and Ray Ferraro for a tie with Ray Bourque for 88th on the all-time goal list with 410.
Giordano establishes new career-high point total
When NHL defencemen enter their mid-30s, it’s understandable if they’re production takes a step back. For Mark Giordano, that logic doesn’t seem to compute.
The Flames’ captain set a new career-high in his age-35 season when he registered his 56th point of the campaign. The milestone point came off a beautiful goal from Giordano that saw him deke out Coyotes’ goaltender Calvin Pickard for an easy finish.
After establishing a new career-high point total, Giordano became only the eighth defenceman in the last 40 seasons to do so in his age-35 season or later.
Giordano added an assist later in the contest for point No. 57. Barring a catastrophic, unprecedented collapse, Giordano will reach 60 points this season, and in doing so make him only the fourth defenceman in history to reach that point total at age 35 or older.
Let the good times keep rolling for the ageless wonder.
Kane keeps up incredible run
Patrick Kane is in a league of his own right now.
With an assist on Alex DeBrincat’s first period goal against the Ottawa Senators, the Blackhawks forward extended his point streak to an incredible 18 games. During Kane’s 18-game stretch, the Buffalo, N.Y. native has also posted assists in 17 straight games, a separate streak which puts him in elite company.
That’s right, only Wayne Gretzky and Adam Oates have assist streaks spanning a longer duration.
Kane finished the wild night with a goal and two assists, and now has 14 goals and 40 points during his point streak.
A Columbus native finally dresses for Blue Jackets
It took 18 seasons, but the Blue Jackets finally had a Columbus-area native play for the club on home ice.
After making his NHL debut against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, Kole Sherwood got his chance to skate at Nationwide Arena when Columbus hosted the league-best Lightning on Monday.
Despite not finding the scoresheet, you can be sure Sherwood won’t ever forget playing close to home in front of family and friends, in his second career NHL game no less.
The 22-year-old has put up 11 goals and three assists in 34 games with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters this season, and also has one goal in three games for the Jacksonville IceMen of the ECHL.