While the Tampa Bay Lightning pride themselves on the depth throughout their line-up, there is one player that keys their offense and makes them one of the most dangerous teams in the league. That player is Nikita Kucherov. After spending a shortened regular season without him leading things last year, he had started this season strong with four points (one goal, three assists) in the first three games. Unfortunately, it might be awhile until he hits the ice again.
With about nine minutes to go in the third period of the Lightning’s game against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night, Kucherov awkwardly avoided Garnet Hathaway in the Washington zone. Immediately after the Capital skated past him, Kucherov was in obvious discomfort.
He headed to the bench and straight to the Lightning locker room. After 17:25 of ice time, his night was done. The Lightning mixed up the lines a little for the last few shifts by the Point line with Mathieu Joseph, Anthony Cirelli, and Steven Stamkos getting some ice time.
Following the game Coach Cooper did not have an update, as he preached a little patience, “let’s not hit any panic buttons, let’s see what the evaluation is when we get back.” He also pointed out that the Lightning have a relatively light schedule next week. They don’t play again until Tuesday and are then off until Saturday.
Kucherov wasn’t the only Lightning player to leave the game early. Jan Rutta exited the game with about 7:30 left in the second period and didn’t return. Right now Tampa Bay has five healthy defensemen on the roster, although Cal Foote did skate in a regular jersey this weekend.
Expect further news from the team when they return to Tampa.