CHICAGO (AP) — Tampa Bay forward Nikita Kucherov participated in the Lightning’s morning skate Monday before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, two days after he was injured early in Game 5.
“I’m going to take warmup, and then it’s up to the coach if I play or not,” Kucherov said in the Lightning’s dressing room.
Kucherov is the second-leading scorer in the Stanley Cup playoffs with 22 points, but he was hurt in the first period of Chicago’s 2-1 win at Tampa Bay on Saturday when he crashed into the post.
Kucherov collided with goalie Corey Crawford and fell awkwardly into the post while trying to score. The Russian skated off slowly and didn’t return.
The Lightning seem hopeful he’ll be back on their vaunted “Triplets” line with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat when they attempt to force a seventh game. If Kucherov can’t play, captain Steven Stamkos is likely to pick up extra ice time with the rest of the line.
“You can’t keep Kuch out for long,” said Johnson, the postseason’s leading scorer. “He’s a tough kid. He’s always going to be back. It’s nice seeing him back on the ice. Still don’t really know what’s going on, so I hope he can play tonight.”
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper put Kucherov’s health in football terms.
“Probable. I’ll go probable,” Cooper said.
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop also skated at the United Center several hours before the Lightning face elimination against the Chicago Blackhawks. Bishop played in Game 5 after missing Game 4 with an undisclosed injury, and the 53-game winner said he “is getting better every day.”
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