The chess match between power plays and penalty kills is fascinating to watch in the NHL.
Especially in the playoffs when teams play each other multiple times in a row.
In this clip, you’ll see how Nikita Kucherov threads a few passes into and through the middle of the Dallas Stars penalty kill for two great assists to open the scoring in game 3 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals.
On the first goal, you see Brayden Point open for just a split second because Dallas is trying to take away the middle as best they can. Yet, Kucherov threads the needle and still finds him!
Point finds the tiny seam of open ice between him and Kuchrov and between the defenders’ sticks…and Kucherov finds him. That’s how skilled and unforgiving the NHL is!
Because of that, the next play you see Dallas REALLY clamp down on Point in the middle… and then Kucherov ends up finding Ondrej Palat on the backside.
Part of the reason that Kucherov can do what he does on the power play is because he is a dual-threat. He obviously can pass the puck…but because he can also rip it, it opens up so many more options.
On Palat’s goal, check out how much Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin slides towards Kucherov anticipating a one-timer blast. That mindset and push didn’t allow him to get back in any sort of time to stop Palat’s shot once he realized Kucherov actually passed it.
And credit to Alex Killorn in front of the net for this as well with the incredible screen!
These little adjustments on special teams can make or break a game…and ultimately a series in the playoffs.
Great job by Tampa on executing after a pretty long stretch of not being able to score on the power play!