Nikita Kucherov suspended 1 game for boarding Markus Nutivaara

Tanya Simon
April 14, 2019

We just have to focus on Game 3.

While this surge ahead is clearly good news for Columbus, just past year the Blue Jackets were up 2-0 in the first round against the Washington Capitals on the road before losing the next four games and the series. He was also assessed a minor penalty for tripping Nutivaara seconds before the boarding incident.

But Victor Hedman wasn't one of them. Kucherov scored 128 points this season (41 goals and 87 assists), the most the National Hockey League has seen since Jaromir Jagr scored 161 in 1995-96.

Kucherov had a phone hearing with the Department of Player Safety on Saturday morning and was not a part of the Lightning's line rushes during practice in preparation for a potential suspension.

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The Lightning, which had the NHL's best record (62-16-4, 128 points) in the regular season, now will have to dig themselves out of an 0-2 playoff hole without the league's leading scorer. His absence would be another notable one, but there's some optimism he'll play Game 3.

As expected, Kucherov has been suspended for Sunday night's Game 3 in Columbus.

Matt Duchene's four points led Columbus to a 5-1 win in Tampa on Friday.

Despite that, his absence would be a massive blow to the Lightning going forward and if the Blue Jackets get up 3-0 in the series, it could be almost impossible for Tampa Bay to come back despite the awesome regular season it just had. Now they have the Tampa Bay on the ropes and are enticingly closer to winning the first playoff series in franchise history.

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