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Lightning Round: Nikita Kucherov skates with the team for the first time since surgery

The Russian forward is still not expected to return before the new year

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders - Game Four Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Earlier this week Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper mentioned in some of his interviews that Nikita Kucherov, who hasn’t played since mid-October, is inching closer to skating. Yesterday, we’ve seen confirmation of his words as Kucherov participated in morning practice with the team ahead of last night’s game against the Boston Bruins.

However, according to Jon Cooper, there’s still no change in timeline of Kucherov’s return and the Russian forward isn’t expected to return before the new year. Kucherov was cleared to skate last week and met with his surgeon this week while the Bolts played in St. Louis [Tampa Bay Times]

“He came in after the (morning) skate, so he’s got to get on the ice at some point,” Cooper said. “It has not triggered anything new on his timeline. He’s still quite a ways off, but it’s great to have him out here with the guys.”

Kucherov underwent surgery on October 26, ten days after he suffered a lower-body injury during the game against the Washington Capitals. Initially he was expected to miss 8-10 weeks.

The Lightning are also missing their top-line center Brayden Point, who hasn’t played since November 20 after crashing into the boards in the game against the New Jersey Devils. Point is also not expected to return before the new year, but reportedly should be available before Kucherov.

Mathieu Joseph missed his third game in a row yesterday and remains in day-to-day category. He was present at the yesterday’s morning skate and as Jon Cooper previously mentioned Joseph will return to the lineup during the current road-trip. Erik Cernak also left yesterday’s game early after taking a shot into the ankle area. It was just his third game after recovering from hand surgery, due to which he missed eight games.

Lightning Links

The Lightning almost blew a two-goal lead, but still earned two points after Steven Stamkos’ goal in overtime [Raw Charge]

At the end of the day, you have to be happy with two more points banked in the standings without two of the team’s best players available. The Lightning have played great recently and won some important games. This wasn’t one of the better performances (almost the worst of the season until the last several minutes of the game) but they still came away with the win. Bank those points and move on

Taylor Raddysh scored his first NHL goal and did it shorthanded.

Following two postponements this week, another Syracuse Crunch’s game against the Rochester Americans has been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.

Hockey News

The results of the previous gameday:

The Florida Panthers completed another comeback in the game against the St. Louis Blues and remain at the top of the league.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 750th career goal, once again rewriting the NHL record book.

The Montreal Canadiens claimed a defenceman Kale Clague off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings.