Nikita Kucherov injury update: Lightning star’s Game 7 status in question after cross-check

The Lightning suffered a big blow Wednesday night when forward Nikita Kucherov left Game 6 of their Stanley Cup playoff series vs. the Islanders early in the first period because of an injury.

Kucherov skated off the ice after delivering a hit to Isles forward Mathew Barzal two minutes into the game. It wasn’t clear whether the injury occurred on that play or when he was cross-checked in the back by New York’s Scott Mayfield seconds earlier.

Mayfield was not penalized for his stick work.

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Kucherov did not return. He had just 46 seconds of ice time before exiting. The Lightning had not provided an update on his status as of early Thursday.  

Tampa Bay had to find ways to make up for the loss of Kucherov’s offense. The 2018-19 Hart Trophy winner is the club’s leading scorer this postseason with a league-high 27 points (five goals, 22 assists) in 17 games. He sat out the entire regular season as he recovered from offseason hip surgery.

The Lightning went up 2-0 as they attempted to close out the NHL semifiinal series and advance to the Stanley Cup Final for a second consecutive year. Brayden Point scored at 16:02 of the first and Anthony Cirelli scored at 12:36 of the second. The Isles cut the lead in half on Jordan Eberle’s goal at 14:22 of the middle frame and then tied the game on a goal by Mayfield at 11:16 of the third.

In overtime, the Isles’ Anthony Beauvillier converted a Tampa Bay giveaway into the game-winning goal at 1:08. The series will now be decided in Game 7 on Friday in Tampa.   

Barzal was back on the ice Wednesday after receiving a game misconduct in Game 5 of the series for cross-checking Tampa Bay’s Jan Rutta in the head.

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