Sports

Lightning's Kucherov suspended for Game 3

Lightning's Kucherov suspended for Game 3

Two of the biggest surprises of the Stanley Cup Playoffs so far have been the Columbus Blue Jackets' back-to-back wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning to go up 2-0 in the series.

After getting beat up on all night Friday against the Blue Jackets, Hedman reached a breaking point with teammate Nikita Kucherov. The DOPS determined that on the play, Kucherov skated toward the "defenseless Nutivaara, lowered himself for contact, and drives him into the boards", according to a video explanation released on Saturday.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper says he hopes Hedman can play.

Kucherov was suspended for boarding Columbus defenseman Markus Nutivaara late in Tampa Bay's 5-1 loss in Game 2 to trail 2-0 in the series.

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The Blue Jackets are facing top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning, the team that won the Presidents' Trophy for best overall record in the National Hockey League, ending the regular season 62-16. The Department of Player Safety announced Kucherov will be suspended for Game 3 because of the hit.

The league ruled that Nutivaara was in an "exposed and defenseless" position when Kucherov delivered a unsafe hit that drove him into the boards.

Kucherov finished the regular season with 41 goals and 87 assists for an NHL-high 128 points.

Despite that, his absence would be a massive blow to the Lightning going forward and if the Blue Jackets get up 3-0 in the series, it could be almost impossible for Tampa Bay to come back despite the awesome regular season it just had.