Lightning will not have Steven Stamkos for Eastern Conference Final

Steven Stamkos
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Tampa Bay Lightning superstar forward Steven Stamkos is still not ready to return the lineup, and will not be available in the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Islanders.

That news was announced by coach Jon Cooper on Sunday, putting to bed any hope that Stamkos could be ready to play anytime soon.

“He’s not available. He didn’t skate today,” said Cooper, via NHL.com. “He’s not going to play in the series.”

“If something’s going to happen and he’s getting close, I will be the first one to tell you. But from here on out, you shouldn’t ask the questions because the answer’s not going to change. If something comes, I will update you. I will be the first to let you know.”

This has been another tough-luck year for Stamkos on the injury front as he has not appeared in a game since February.

He initially missed time during the regular season after undergoing surgery in early March for a core muscle injury.

This latest injury is something that occurred during his recovery from the core muscle injury.

Stamkos recorded 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 59 games during the regular season. A significant portion of Stamkos’ prime years have been derailed by injuries and health issues, and this is the just latest in the run of bad luck.

He missed most of the 2013-14 and 2016-17 seasons due to significant leg injuries, while he was also sidelined for almost all of the Lighting’s run to the Eastern Conference Final during the 2015-16 postseason due to a blood clot issue. He appeared in just one game that entire postseason (their Game 7 loss to Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference Final).

There was also a half-season lockout thrown in with all of that during the 2012-13 season.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Cooper did have some positive injury news for the Lightning on Sunday, when he announced that Nikita Kucherov, their other superstar forward, will be available for Game 1 against the Islanders on Monday night. He had been banged up in Tampa Bay’s Second Round win against the Boston Bruins. He has been one of the top offensive players in the league for the past five years and is one of the leading scorers this postseason.

No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 6 New York Islanders

Game 1: Monday, Sept. 7, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 2: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 8 p.m ET – NBCSN
Game 3: 
Friday, Sept. 11, 8 p.m. ET – USA
Game 4: 
Sunday, Sept. 13, 3 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 5: 
Tuesday, Sept. 15, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Game 6: 
Thursday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Game 7: 
Saturday, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m. ET – NBC

*if necessary

MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.