The Tampa Bay Lightning have been without leading scorer Nikita Kucherov for the past three games and may be without him for a few more contests due to a lower-body injury.
Kucherov not listed among the scratches, so he’s been place on IR, but will be eligible to come back before Tuesday’s game vs Det
— Erik Erlendsson (@Erik_Erlendsson) December 18, 2016
Nikita Kucherov Placed on Injured Reserve
The injury occurred some time during last Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and the team has gone 1-1-1 in his absence, with call-up Cory Conacher netting a goal, assist, and six shots in the span he has been out.
To say Kucherov has been important to the Lightning this season has been an understatement. With Steven Stamkos out since November 15th with a knee injury that will force him to miss multiple months, the 23-year old winger has 13 goals and 30 points to lead the team and place 4th in the NHL in points at the time of his injury. His three game winners, ten power play points, and 84 shots also have paced the Lightning. The team currently ranks 4th in the wide open Atlantic Division with a 15-14-3 record, two points out of third behind the Boston Bruins.
Cooper has stressed the importance of different players stepping up in not only Kucherov’s absence, but also for Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan who have also missed recent time with setbacks of their own.
“It’s been an unfortunate run of late with all the injuries. If there’s ever a time for guys to step up, it’s right now.”
-Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach
Kucherov has had a remarkable start to his 239-game NHL career in the regular season and in the postseason through two full campaigns, being a regular contributor for head coach Jon Cooper. He’s scored 29 goals and 65 points along with 30 markers and 66 points respectively each of the past two seasons. His 22 goals and 42 points in 45 career playoff games helped the Lightning advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final in 2016.
Quote courtesy of Tampa Bay Times.