How good must that first-period goal have felt for Nikita Kucherov? His reaction said it all: arms raised to the rafters, one skate off the ice as he circled the ice. Maybe he’s coming out of the slump. He had an aggressive night with the puck Monday in Edmonton and followed that up with a goal Thursday, flipping in a backhander.
It was good to see coach Jon Cooper juggle his lines, splitting Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, who is also struggling to score. Change the scenery on the ice. Change the comfort level with linemates. Change the guys passing them the pucks and the guys they’re passing pucks to. Better to work through a slump now.
That’s 20 goals this season for Yanni Gourde after he scored on the power play in the second period. How important has Gourde been? He was expected to be a complementary piece after making the team out of camp, but Gourde has turned into much more than that. He is a legit scoring threat on a team deep in scoring threats.