The Tampa Bay Lightning are on the brink of elimination. After a season that saw them lose just 16 games in regulation, the team is down 3-0 in their series against the Columbus Blue Jackets and will need to win four straight to avoid a historic collapse. Unfortunately, they won’t have their best defenseman in the lineup to help out. Victor Hedman has been ruled out again by head coach Jon Cooper, who also notes that Anton Stralman will not play and Alex Killorn is a game-time decision.
Hedman was injured against the Washington Capitals on March 30th and missed the final few games of the regular season, but suited up in the first two games of the series. Even though he was on the ice the Norris-caliber defenseman was clearly not up to his lofty standards, and now could potentially watch his team get swept out of the first round without being able to help. The Blue Jackets have a chance to make history by knocking the Presidents Trophy winners out in four games, and will do it on home ice.
Luckily, if you can call it that, the Lightning will get some help back in the form of Nikita Kucherov. The potential Hart Trophy winner will be back after missing game three due to suspension, and will try to get his first points of the season and help Tampa Bay stave of elimination. Kucherov has been a solid playoff performer in the past, recording 58 points in his first 58 postseason games but now has just a single assist in his last six going back to last season.