Lightning ‘hopeful’ Nikita Kucherov’s injury isn’t long-term

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper didn't have a clear update on the status of star forward Nikita Kucherov, but remains hopeful that the injury isn't too serious and that the team should have the opportunity to rest players before the next round.

The Tampa Bay Lightning dispatched the Boston Bruins with a double-overtime win in Game 5 Monday and they did it despite not having star winger Nikita Kucherov for most of the game.

Kucherov suffered an injury on a high-stick from Zdeno Chara in the first period that cut his face. He left to the locker room after the incident but briefly returned for a couple of shifts in the second period before he removed himself from the game.

His final shift came with seven minutes remaining in the second.

After the game, head coach Jon Cooper said he’ll have more of an update on Kucherov Tuesday but that he was “hopeful” it wouldn’t be a long-term injury.

“He did come back afterwards and played for a little bit so obviously we’re hopeful and maybe I don’t know, hope we get a little bit of a break here so we can rest our guys including him,” Cooper said.

The Lightning will now await the winner of a series between the Flyers and Islanders, which New York currently leads 3-1. Game 5 in that series is scheduled for Tuesday.

The Lightning have already played the entire post-season without Steven Stamkos but losing Kucherov long-term would be significant. The 2018-19 Hart Trophy winner has been on fire in the post-season, scoring 16 points in 12 games.

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