After denying he was playing hurt, the truth about Nikita Kucherov's injury appears to be out.
According to The Athletic’s Joe Smith, who spoke to Kucherov’s agent Dan Milstein, the Tampa Bay Lightning star played in the Stanley Cup Final with a fractured rib and needed multiple injections during the series, which ended with Wednesday's 1-0 Game 5 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Kucherov, who led the playoffs in scoring by nine points over teammate Brayden Point with a total of 32, still managed to put up five points as the Lightning repeated as champions.
The 2018-19 MVP had previously denied getting hurt in Game 6 of the team's Stanley Cup semifinal series against the New York Islanders, the majority of which he missed after taking a crosscheck to the body from Scott Mayfield.
Kucherov returned for Game 7 to help the Lightning clinch a berth to the Cup Final and downplayed the incident in his availability ahead of Tampa Bay's matchup vs. Montreal.
"There was no injury, I don't know what you're talking about," Kucherov told reporters.
The 28-year-old also missed the entire regular season after having off-season hip surgery.