Kucherov ‘in considerably better shape,’ might play in Game 6

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Tampa Bay lost forward Nikita Kucherov in the first period of Game 5 on Saturday after he fell awkwardly into the goal post, but with everything on the line for the Lightning, he might be back for Game 6 Monday night.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper confirmed an earlier report that Kucherov traveled with the team to Chicago.

“He’s in considerably better shape today than he was last night,” Cooper added during Sunday’s press conference. “To be honest, I thought there was a chance he was coming back last night. But it didn’t work out. These two days will give him the rest he needs.”

Kucherov might participate in Monday’s skate, but his absence in it wouldn’t necessarily be cause for concern as the practice is optional. Cooper compared the situation to Bishop’s as the goaltender was unable to play on Wednesday and then missed Friday’s practice, but still returned on Saturday.

It would be a considerable blow if Kucherov isn’t able to play as the 21-year-old ranks second in the league with 22 points in 25 playoff games.