Are the flashes back? Nikita Kucherov is, and that’s a great start – The Athletic

Admit it. Watching Lightning in the final 20 minutes of Saturday night’s 7-4 win over the Jets, you had two questions:

are they back

Where the hell was this team?

Back-to-back comeback victories against non-playoff teams the Jets played the night before won’t make everyone believe. Not with Tampa Bay, which has gone 1-9-1 against playoff teams in its last 11 matchups.

So I asked arguably the best player on the team, Nikita Kucherov, if they were starting to look like they used to.

“No,” he said. But the third period? Kucherov said that’s how they have to play.

“It felt like our old selves in the third,” said captain Steven Stamkos. “It was the hockey we’re used to. Play with confidence and composure, get the right reads and defend hard.”

Kucherov is holding to a near-impossible standard, so even after another four-point night on Saturday, he opened up about getting some “lucky” bounces.

But one thing is for sure, if Kucherov feels it, the Lightnings will be a different team. A better team. A championship level team. And after missing most of the first half of the season with a lower body injury, Kucherov may be coming back on form at the right time, six games before the playoffs. So could his team.

Kucherov has scored seven goals in his last eight games, including two on Saturday. In the previous two wins, he scored the equalizer. Are the flashes back? Nikita Kucherov is, and that’s a great start – The Athletic

Olly Dawes

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