Nikita Kucherov considered day-to-day
Nikita Kucherov left the Bell Centre Thursday night looking a lot like he did when he arrived.
There was no noticeable limp, no brace tucked over his suit. Asked if he was okay, the 23-year-old Russian politely nodded.
And it certainly looks like the Lightning caught a break, with Kucherov officially listed Friday as day-to-day with an upper body injury. It's uncertain what his status will be for Saturday's game against the Devils. The Lightning recalled forward Cory Conacher from AHL Syracuse just in case.
But it could have been a lot worse, the Lightning appearing concerned after Kucherov was unable to play the final two periods of Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Canadiens. There's no specifics on the injury, which is believed to be in the left shoulder area. Coach Jon Cooper did say it was not a concussion.
If Kucherov does miss some time, the Lightning (5-2-0) is confident it can find a way.
"It's never fun to see guys not finishing games," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "We'll see what the status is. Guys have an opportunity to step up and play more minutes. We've been through this before. That's what we've been known for the last few years, guys step up when other guys do down."
Sure, losing the team's leading scorer from last season is a blow. Kucherov had seven points in his first six games, including scoring his first goal in Tuesday's win in Toronto, a career-high four-point night from the Russian.
But this is a team that managed to advance two playoff rounds last summer without captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot) and top-pairing defenseman Anton Stralman (broken leg). And, besides recalling Conacher, veteran wing Ryan Callahan is nearing his return from June hip surgery, and could make his season debut this weekend. Rookie Brayden Point, already a pleasant surprise, might see a bigger role, having developed chemistry with Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn during the preseason.
It's still unclear how Kucherov got hurt. He took a nasty spill into the boards after losing an edge with six minutes to go in the first period. Kucherov's left shoulder absorbed most of the impact, and though he played the rest of the period, he didn't return.
"That may have contributed to it," Cooper said of the play. "He played after that, but something got hit the wrong way, something aggravated that for sure. I don't know."