Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning, right, celebrates his 100th assist on the season with Brayden Point #21 against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at the Amalie Arena on April 17, 2024 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

It doesn’t happen often. But here are 10 times we caught the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov smiling… or almost smiling.

Congratulations to Tampa Bay Lightning right winger and future NHL Hall of Famer Nikita Kucherov. Last night, he became only the 5th NHL player EVER to get 100 assists in a single season.

For those not super into hockey, an assist is when you pass the puck to a teammate who scores. Getting 100 assists in a season puts Kuch in some pretty impressive company with hockey legends like Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Mario Lemieux. Before this year, it had been a long 32 years since a player accomplished this feat. For a brief fleeting moment, we caught Nikita Kucherov smiling as everyone at Amalie Arena celebrated.

Nikita Kucherov is one of the most intense players on the Tampa Bay Lightning and all of the National Hockey League. TV cameras often catch Kuch scowling and cussing himself out on the bench if a shift doesn’t go exactly as planned. Even when he gets the puck in the net, Nikita Kucherov’s celebrations are usually more of a loud ferocious yell instead of a cheerful celebratory grin. To catch Nikita Kucherov smiling is a special moment.

But here are a few rare shots where we caught the Russian cracking a smile… or almost smiling. Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning on securing another playoff run. The Lightning begin the quest for another Stanley Cup and boat parade this weekend. The Bolts will face off against in-state rival the Florida Panthers in the first round of the NHL playoffs. These 2 teams are notorious for getting physical so this series should be memorable. Go Bolts! And hopefully we’ll be able to share some more of these rare instances of Nikita Kucherov smiling.

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