Forward Nikita Kucherov showed why Tampa Bay values him when he scored during his first shift of tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars, but whether or not Lightning fans will get to see him in the season opener on Oct. 8 is now in question.
Roughly five minutes after that goal, Kucherov absorbed a hard hit by Remi Elie. Kucherov sustained a lower-body injury, which caused him to miss the remainder of the game, per the Tampa Bay Times.
The good news is that Kucherov was able to skate off the ice on his own. He also returned midway through the first period to test the ice during a timeout, although the fact that he didn’t take another shift even after that suggests the results of that test were less than great.
This isn’t the first scare that the Lightning have endured during the preseason. Defenseman Victor Hedman couldn’t finish Tuesday’s game, but his injury is regarded as minor. Before that, forward Cedric Paquette was shaken up after blocking a shot Saturday and fortunately his X-rays came back negative.
Perhaps this will prove to be a similar case, although it would certainly be a significant blow for the Lightning if they ended up missing one-third of The Triplets line for an extended period.
Updated: Lightning coach Jon Cooper is optimistic about his chances of being available for the season opener, according to the Tampa Bay Times.