Lightning's Kucherov suspended 1 game for boarding Blue Jackets' Nutivaara

Lightning's Kucherov suspended 1 game for boarding Blue Jackets' Nutivaara

Lightning's Kucherov suspended 1 game for boarding Blue Jackets' Nutivaara

Kucherov had a phone hearing with the Department of Player Safety on Saturday morning and was not a part of the Lightning's line rushes during practice in preparation for a potential suspension.

Matt Duchene, who struggled offensively following a late-season trade from Ottawa, led the Columbus attack on Friday with a goal and three assists.

As expected, Kucherov has been suspended for Sunday night's Game 3 in Columbus.

Here's the play, which occurred with less than five minutes remaining in the third period of Friday's 5-1 loss that put the top-seeded Bolts in a stunning 0-2 hole. As Tampa Bay trailed 5-1 with under five minutes to go, Kucherov tripped Columbus defenseman Markus Nutivaara and then delivered a risky follow-up hit on Nutivaara, which was ruled to be boarding.

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Beyond the early-season meeting, communication between Walton and the front office was fraught, sources told ESPN . The organization announced its decision to "mutually" part ways with coach Luke Walton after three seasons.

Aside from the first 20 minutes of the series when the Lightning looked like they'd be running away with the first round, it's been the wild cards of Columbus who have dominated the scoreboard and sounded the alarm bells in Tampa.

The league ruled that Nutivaara was in an "exposed and defenseless" position when Kucherov delivered a risky hit that drove him into the boards. His absence would be another notable one, but there's some optimism he'll play Game 3.

However, through two games of the first round Kucherov has yet to record a point.

The Lightning is already at a two-game deficit entering Game 3 against the Blue Jackets, but now the team may have to find a way to win without its star defenseman, already knowing it's without a star forward.

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