There may be another reason for fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning to be concerned.
Already sitting outside of the playoff picture entering Tuesday night (granted, at that point in time they had played fewer games than every other squad in the Eastern Conference), the Lightning saw one of their stars go down due to injury at the Enterprise Center.
Nikita Kucherov — the reigning Art Ross Trophy and Hart Trophy winner — was levelled by Brayden Schenn of the St. Louis Blues late in the second period on Tuesday night.
Moments after chipping a puck into the Blues’ zone on his backhand, Kucherov was flattened by Schenn.
Lightning rearguard Erik Cernak quickly jumped to the defence of his teammate and a skirmish broke out between the two sides as a result. Cernak received a double-minor for roughing on the play, while Schenn was given a minor for the same charge.
While Kucherov was able to get onto his feet after the collision, he was clearly shaken up. He did not return to the game.
Tampa Bay lost 3-1, falling to 9-7-2 on the year.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said after the final buzzer that Kucherov “tried but couldn’t” return, according to the Lightning’s radio analyst Caley Chelios. Cooper didn’t provide on update on the 26-year-old but stated his absence wasn’t related to concussion protocol, per Joe Smith of The Athletic.
The team officially listed Kucherov with an upper-body injury late Tuesday night, according to Smith.
Kucherov, the first overall selection in many Yahoo fantasy drafts before the 2019-20 campaign got underway, has six goals and 18 points so far this season.
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