Newly re-signed Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov leaves the game at the end of the first period after a nasty collision with the boards.
There is no denying things have been insane for the Tampa Bay Lightning over the past couple of days. The Bolts kicked off a six-game road trip on October 22nd as they made their first stop at the Canadian Tire Centre to take on the Ottawa Senators.
After defeating the Senators 4-1, the Lightning continued their journey to the Air Canada Centre where they would do battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is where things started to get rather interesting for the Bolts.
Late in the second period, the Tampa Bay Lightning would find themselves up 4-0 over the Maple Leafs. All of a sudden, an errant puck would strike Lightning netminder Ben Bishop in the face. Normally, this would not be the worst thing in the world considering the rather sturdy headgear goaltenders in the NHL wear.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Unfortunately, this didn’t do much good for Bishop. Somehow, the puck made its way through Bishop’s mask and smacked him square in the face. This resulted in Bishop losing his two front teeth.
As most of you know by now, hockey players are some of the toughest athletes in the world. So…what do you think Bishop did after having his two front teeth snapped from his jaw? That’s right, ladies and gentlemen…he went right back out on the ice to finish the remainder of the game.
Now…that leads us to the unfortunate matter at hand. After blowing away the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the Bolts would make their way to the Bell Centre where they would take on the league-leading Montreal Canadiens.
The Tampa Bay Lightning for off to a horrendously slow start against the Montreal Canadiens, but this would turn out to be the least of the team’s worries. Late in the first period, the Lightning would receive the kind of news no team (or their fans) ever want to hear.
Before we get to that, allow us to set the scene for you. The Canadiens were attempting to clear the zone as they quickly approached the neutral zone. Unfortunately for them, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov was there to pick up the puck.
Kucherov attempted to spin around towards the boards to make his way back into the offensive zone. Unfortunately, as he started to make the turn Kucherov lost the edge on his skate and went tumbling to the ground.
Under cover by Canadiens forward Torrey Mitchell, Kucherov knew he had to do something with the puck. Using his keen sense of situational awareness, he used his stick to get the puck out of the reach of Mitchell. Unfortunately for Kucherov, this allowed him to slam into the boards, shoulder first, with no protection.
Nikita Kucherov was slow to get to his feet, but he was able to make his way to the Lightning bench unassisted. There, you could see him speaking with Tampa Bay Lightning Head Athletic Trainer Tom Mulligan about the incident. It almost looked as if he was favoring his collarbone.
Lightning fans breathed a sigh of relief when Kucherov was able to finish out the first period with the team. Unfortunately, things would not be as favorable when the Lightning returned to the ice for the second period of play. As the time continued to tick off the clock, there was still no sign of Kucherov.
Finally, the buzzer sounded to end the second period and the Lightning returned to their locker room. To the dismay for Lightning fans all around the Bolts Nation, Kucherov still was not with the team when they took the ice for the third period. Even as the final buzzer sounded to end what turned out to be a pretty painful loss for the Bolts, there was still no word on Nikita Kucherov’ condition.
After the game, Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper spoke to the media. When asked about Kucherov, he had absolutely no update on his condition and quickly changed the subject back to the game at hand. As you can imagine, this only caused more unrest among Tampa Bay Lightning fans.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have an even bigger task in front of them now. The Bolts are headed to the Prudential Center where they will take on the New Jersey Devils to kick off their back-to-back weekend.
If Kucherov’ condition is as bad as some think it is, the Lightning will have to make some pretty quick changes to the lineup in order to be ready for what is sure to be an intense weekend. Hopefully, the Lightning will have an update sooner rather than later. Honestly, it’s the not knowing that is the worst part of any potential injury.
UPDATE: According to Tampa Bay Lightning Beat Writer Bryan Burns, the Tampa Bay Lightning have the day off today (October 28th). Therefore, we won’t have any sort of update on Kucherov’ status until the Bolts take the ice tomorrow for their morning skate.