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Lightning top scorer Kucherov out hurt

Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov works to fight off a check along the glass against the Predators during the first period at Amalie Arena on Feb. 12.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov works to fight off a check along the glass against the Predators during the first period at Amalie Arena on Feb. 12.

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Lightning was dealt a big blow Sunday when its leading scorer, RW Nikita Kucherov, missed the 4-2 win against the Hurricanes with a lower-body injury.

Kucherov, who got hurt in Saturday's game against the Penguins, was considered day to day. It was uncertain if he would be able to return by Tuesday's game against the Coyotes.

"Let's hope it's not too bad," coach Jon Cooper said. "I hope he can play Tuesday. If not, we've got to learn to play without some of these guys. Injuries happen. Hopefully when we get back (to Tampa), he's going to be evaluated and see how he is."

Kucherov is second on the team to C Steven Stamkos with 24 goals and has a team-high 49 points. He had played in every game this season and all 82 last season.

STEPPING UP: With Kucherov out, it was an opportunity for RW Jonathan Marchessault, who played with C Tyler Johnson and LW Ondrej Palat.

Marchessault is making it hard to take him out of the lineup, with four points in his past three games, including an assist Sunday in 17 minutes, 30 seconds of play. Marchessault has played in four straight games after sitting in 11 of 15.

"To play one game, it's hard, but when you get a few in a row, it's kind of fun to get your legs going," he said. "You're more used to the style. I know coach wants me to do more plays, so that's what I'm trying to do."

Marchessault knows playing time isn't guaranteed but earned. He entered Sunday tied for third on the team in goals per games played (.18) and third in shooting percentage (13.7).

"I've got to make it hard on them to take me out of the lineup," he said. "I was doing good, but it wasn't good enough. So I want to keep doing good, and hopefully one day I'll be more regular."

PAQUETTE OKAY: C Cedric Paquette was back in the lineup, an encouraging sign considering how bad it looked when he got hurt in Saturday's game at Pittsburgh. He took a shot off his left foot/leg and had to be helped off the ice.

BACK TO BEN: G Ben Bishop started, the second time this season he has played in both games in a back-to-back situation. The other time was Oct. 12 in Boston (a 6-3 win) and Oct. 13 in Detroit (a 3-1 loss).

NUTS AND BOLTS: D Matt Carle was plus-2 in 20:23, making him plus-7 in his past three games. … D Slater Koekkoek was a healthy scratch. … The Canadiens, Blackhawks and Sabres were slated to have representatives at Sunday's game. The trade deadline is a week from today.

Lightning top scorer Kucherov out hurt 02/21/16 [Last modified: Monday, February 22, 2016 12:04am]
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