Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Dalton Prout punch knocks Nikita Kucherov from game

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The NHL is expected to look into Sunday's sucker punch by Blue Jackets D Dalton Prout, who knocked Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov out of the game midway through the second period.

Kucherov was part of a scrum behind the net after a Nick Foligno tripping penalty on G Ben Bishop. Prout entered the fray and delivered a punch to Kucherov's head, receiving a two-minute roughing penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. The two continued to exchange words while in the penalty box, with Kucherov not playing another shift after serving his roughing penalty. Kucherov was evaluated during the game.

Coach Jon Cooper said he didn't think Kucherov's injury was a long-term concern, but he couldn't have liked how it happened. "That's a tough play," Cooper said. "It's out of my hands. I'm sure if there's something wrong with it, the league will look at it."

It has been a rough week for Kucherov, who took an illegal check to the head from the Bruins' John-Michael Liles on Tuesday. Liles had a disciplinary hearing but did not receive supplemental discipline.

MEDICAL MATTERS: C Valtteri Filppula was also hurt in the 4-0 win, suffering an upper-body injury in the first period, playing just 5:03. Cooper said he didn't think Filppula's injury was serious. But with C Cedric Paquette (lower body) missing the game, the Lightning's forward depth took a hit with 13 games to go in the regular season.

"Especially at this time of the year, you want guys to stay healthy," C Steven Stamkos said. "Hopefully it's not too bad on both (Kucherov and Filppula), cause they're huge parts of our team."

It was unclear if the Lightning would need a callup by Tuesday's game at Toronto. Two forwards were healthy scratches (Jonathan Marchessault, Erik Condra), and Paquette is day to day.

boos for BISH: Bishop got booed every time he touched the puck after a first-period Blue Jackets goal was waved off when Boone Jenner interfered with him. Bishop didn't mind the razzing.

"I love that stuff," Bishop said. "It's like college. It gets you going."

Bishop went down again in the second period, when Foligno tripped him behind the net, beginning a fun game-long battle between the former Ottawa teammates. "I played with him, so I was kind of messing with him," Bishop said. "I think I might have got him a little bit harder than I should have."

STEPPING UP: With Paquette out, F Mike Blunden was recalled and played Sunday. Blunden had performed well in a callup earlier this season, racking up two goals and four points with a plus-4 rating in nine games. Blunden had two hits and one shot in 10:05 Sunday.

"He really came up here and impressed," Cooper said. "He's got size, compete, kind of fills a role (Paquette) had for us. And he's earned his spot to be up here."

Blunden could play in his hometown Tuesday in Toronto.

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