Lightning hopeful Kucherov can play; Point ‘highly doubtful’ for Game 4

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The Tampa Bay Lightning are hopeful that Nikita Kucherov can play Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, but it’s unlikely we see Brayden Point return as they look to even up the series against the Colorado Avalanche.

“As I sit right now, I think he can play tomorrow,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Tuesday. “But I’m not Kuch. If I know Kuch, he’s sitting there saying the same thing. But we’ll see what the doctors and everybody says.”

Kucherov injured his lower-body following a cross-check by Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews during Tampa Bay’s 6-2 win. Minutes later, Kucherov left the game following a one-timer attempt. Cooper is hopeful the forward, who is tied for third in playoff scoring, will be in the lineup Wednesday night.

“I think so. I hope so,” Cooper said. “It’s always difficult when the game is 12 hours ago or whatever it was. A lot can happen over the next two days. Am I glad there’s a day off between games? Yes. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”

The NHL Department of Player Safety will not punish Toews for the cross-check.

“I’m not trying to hurt anyone out here,” Toews said. “I’m just trying to play him tight.”

[Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

Point, meanwhile, is looking less likely to return. He missed both the Second Round and Eastern Conference Final after suffering a lower-body injury in Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the First Round but played in Games 1 and 2 against Colorado. He did not dress for Game 3.

Cooper said the forward is “highly doubtful” for Game 4. Riley Nash was inserted into the Tampa Bay lineup in Point’s absence.

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (COL leads 2-1)

Game 1 – Avalanche 4, Lightning 3 (OT)
Game 2 – Avalanche 7, Lightning 0
Game 3 – Lightning 6, Avalanche 2
Game 4 – June 22: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 5 – June 24: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 6 – June 26: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 7 – June 28: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.