12:10 PM: Kucherov has been suspended for one game, the Department of Player Safety announced (video link). He’ll be eligible to return for Game Four on Tuesday night.
8:02 AM: It hasn’t been a great start to Tampa Bay’s postseason as their 5-1 loss to Columbus on Friday night caused Lightning head coach Jon Cooper to call the situation a “five-alarm fire” as they now trail the best-of-seven series 2-0. Things could potentially get worse for the Presidents’ Trophy winners as winger Nikita Kucherov will have a disciplinary hearing today, the Department of Player Safety announced.
This comes from a boarding incident on Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nuutivaara late in Friday’s game. Nutivaara was on his knees but Kucherov still lined him up with a big hit, receiving a minor for tripping, a major for boarding, and a game misconduct in the process.
Losing Kucherov for any period of time would be a huge blow to the Lightning. He led the league in scoring with 128 points (41-87-128) during the regular season, setting a new record for the most points by a Russian-born player in the process. While he has been held off the scoresheet through the first two games, he’s certainly capable of putting up points in a hurry. The series resumes on Sunday so a decision from the league will likely come quickly one way or the other.