TOR@TBL: Kucherov sets up Point for 100th assist

TAMPA -- Nikita Kucherov became the fifth player in NHL history, and the second this season, to have 100 assists in a season Wednesday.

The Tampa Bay Lightning forward reached the milestone when he set up Brayden Point’s power-play goal at 17:05 of the second period in a 6-4 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Amalie Arena. Kucherov faked a one-timer from the right circle and passed to Point, who scored on a wrist shot from the slot to give the Lightning a 4-1 lead.

"It's a special moment," Kucherov said. "Thanks to my teammates and coaching staff for putting me in position to have success. I'm fortunate to play with great players. It's a good moment."

Kucherov joins Wayne Gretzky (11 times), Mario Lemieux (1988-89), Bobby Orr (1970-71) and Connor McDavid (2023-24) as players to have done it. McDavid hit the mark Monday with an assist for the Edmonton Oilers against the San Jose Sharks.

Before that, Gretzky was the last player to do it when he had 122 assists in the 1991-92 season.

The only other time two players had 100 assists in the same season was 1988-89, when Gretzky and Lemieux each had 114.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Gretzky sent him a text message after the game.

"The first text message I got when I checked after the game," Cooper said. "The class act that [Gretzky] is ... just glowing comments about Nikita Kucherov. It was pretty cool."

It was Kucherov's 40th assist on the power play and Point’s 15th power-play goal this season.

"That's a play that he likes to make," Point said. "I just caught it and shot it and hoped it went in. He gave me two looks in the slot earlier in the period that [Martin] Jones made good saves on. I was a little nervous. I was really happy to see it go in."

Kucherov also scored in the first period Wednesday and leads the NHL with 144 points (44 goals, 100 assists). The five-time All-Star won the Hart Trophy in 2019 and helped the Lightning win the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021.

This season, Kucherov also set NHL records for most assists by a wing and most points by a Russia-born player, breaking his own record of 128 set in 2018-19.

"Forty-four goals this year for himself to go along with 100 assists," Point said. "It's remarkable. Just watching ‘Kuch’ every day and seeing how he works, it's an amazing number, but it's not surprising with how hard and how smart he works."

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