Sunday, January 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Kucherov hurt vs. Canadiens

MONTREAL — The Lightning hoped RW Nikita Kucherov wouldn't be out long after leaving Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Canadiens with an unspecified injury after the first period.

Kucherov, the team's leading scorer last season, finished the period but didn't come out for the second. It was unclear what happened, but with about seven minutes left, he appeared to get shaken up on a spill into the boards near the Lightning bench. His left shoulder took the brunt of the impact. But he went out for his next shift.

Kucherov, asked after the game if he was okay, only nodded.

Coach Jon Cooper said the problem wasn't a concussion but he otherwise didn't have an update on his condition. "He got hit the wrong way," Cooper said. "Hopefully it won't be too long."

Kucherov was coming off a career-high four-point night in Tuesday's 7-3 win against the Maple Leafs, in which he scored his first goal of the season. He said he was just starting to feel better about his game, having felt rusty after his contract holdout led him to miss training camp.

The Lightning's next game is Saturday in New Jersey. Depending on Kucherov's status, Tampa Bay could make a callup from AHL Syracuse. It might not need to; wing Ryan Callahan (hip surgery) is nearing a return.

'FUN' TIME: G Ben Bishop made his second consecutive start, which made sense considering his previous success against Canadiens G Carey Price, the 2014-15 Vezina Trophy winner and league MVP. Bishop entered Thursday's game 10-3-3 with a 1.80 goals-against average in 17 career regular-season games against the Canadiens. "It's always fun when you get to play against the best in the world in Carey Price," Bishop said. "I enjoy that challenge."

With the Lightning having back-to-back games Saturday (Devils) and Sunday (Rangers) as it continues a six-game trip, Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy are expected to split those starts.

PICKING SPOTS: D Andrej Sustr had two assists Tuesday, including a behind-the-back pass to set up a Steven Stamkos one-timer. That sparked a conversation with associate coach Rick Bowness. " '(Andrej), I'm not sure where this is coming from, but we're going to stop it,' " Bowness told him, smiling. Sustr said he's just feeling more confident in the offensive zone, though he knows he has to pick his spots: "Just got to make sure you read the situation well and make sure you can afford to make that pass. Can't be afraid to make those plays."

NUTS AND BOLTS: Bishop played in his 200th game for the Lightning. … D James Wisniewski, who had a training camp tryout with the Lightning, signed a contract with Vladivostok in the KHL, Canada's TSN TV network reported. The deal includes a clause that allows him to leave for an NHL job. … D Matt Taormina was a healthy scratch.

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