TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov‘s status for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final is unclear, but Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he would not be surprised if the forward plays against the Colorado Avalanche.
“I think so. I hope so,” Cooper said Tuesday. “‘Kuch,’ as I sit right now, I think he can play tomorrow. But I’m not Kuch. But if I know Kuch, he’s sitting there saying the same thing. But we’ll see what the doctor says about that .”
Kucherov left a 6-2 win in Game 3 on Monday with 6:05 remaining in the third period shortly after being taken down by Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews on a cross-check. Kucherov’s left leg bent awkwardly as he tumbled into the boards. Toews was penalized for cross-checking, and Kucherov stayed on the ice for a power play, taking a couple of shots early until leaving for the locker room during a stoppage.
“It’s one of those plays you don’t want to see,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said after the game. “It’s a dangerous play.”
The Lightning host Game 4 at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (8 pm ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS). Tampa Bay trails the best-of-7 series 2-1.
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Kucherov had two assists Monday to give him 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in his past eight games and 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games this season. He is the fourth player in the NHL to have three consecutive postseasons of at least 25 points, joining Bryan Trottier (New York Islanders, 1980-82), Mike Bossy (Islanders, 1981-83) and Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers, 1983- 85).
“It’s always difficult when the game was literally 12 hours ago, whatever it was,” Cooper said. “A lot can happen in the next two days. Am I glad there’s a day off in between games? Yes. It’s playoff time and regardless of how you think of how it happened and how it went down last night, you can debate about that , but you get dinged up this time of year, these guys.”
Kucherov helped the Lightning win a second consecutive Stanley Cup championship last season after he missed the regular season to recover from hip surgery
“That kid, if you watch last year’s playoff and everybody knows him, what he went through to finish, it’s remarkable,” Cooper said. “So, I never count that kid out.”
Brayden Point is doubtful for Game 4. The forward did not play Game 3 because of an undisclosed injury.
“The status of ‘Pointer’ is day to day,” Cooper said. “That’s probably the best I can give you. Doubtful for tomorrow.”
The forward had missed 10 games after sustaining a lower-body injury in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 14 but returned for the start of the Final. He played 17:59 in Game 1 and 16:40 in a 7-0 loss in Game 2 on Saturday.
Point has five points (two goals, three assists) in nine playoff games, including one assist in the Final. He led the NHL with 14 playoff goals in 2020 and in 2021.
NHL.com staff writer Tracey Myers contributed to this report