During the 2018 All-Star Game, Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Nikita Kucherov scored the most stunning goal of the three-on-three tournament.
Faking Braden Holtby out with a phantom deke, Kucherov let the puck slide through the Capitals goaltender’s five hole without ever touching or shooting the biscuit.
Tuesday night, Kucherov did the magic move again in the Bolts’ 4-2 win over the Caps.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) February 21, 2018
“NSFW,” commented the Lightning on Twitter. They were right.
Kucherov broke in on the decisive breakaway 1:56 after Alex Ovechkin narrowed Tampa’s lead to 3-2 in the third period.
The Russian winger deked three times before letting the puck slide once again through Holtby’s legs. The breakaway was remarkably similar to Kucherov’s ASG goal, just with an added wrinkle.
The tally clinched the game for the Lightning, and Holtby was frustrated he got fooled for a second time.
Holtby on Kucherov's goal and if ASG one was in his head: "The key to getting better is learning from your mistakes, and obviously I didn't do that. I was just trying to play it patient. I wasn't trying to cheat towards that move, and he came at it a different way."
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) February 21, 2018
“That’s on no one else but me,” Holtby added to NBC Sports Washington’s Tarik El-Bashir. “That third and especially the fourth goal – that’s the difference in the game. I thought we played a really strong game against a really good team.”
Kucherov was evasive when doubting reporters asked if he lost control of the puck instead.
Q: Some of your teammates were giving you a hard time. Intentional or not intentional?
Kucherov: What do you think?
Q: I've seen you do it before.
Kucherov: Well, you've seen me do it before, so I did it again.
Q:: Make extra move over puck?
Kucherov: "Something different."
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) February 21, 2018
Regardless on if it was intentional or not, Kucherov’s goal gave Braden Holtby his 12th loss of the season. Over the last four games, Holtby is 0-2-2 and has given up an uncharacteristic 19 goals (4.75 goals per game). The Capitals defense has been routinely giving up high-danger shots down the middle and Holtby has struggled to have an answer.
Braden Holtby has had better days pic.twitter.com/il0o5GWpLY
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) February 21, 2018
Kucherov’s senstational breakaway was just another example.
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