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Lightning-Blue Jackets pregame: Victor Hedman misses Game 3

The defenseman missed Saturday’s practice, both ‘banged up’ and body maintenance.
DIRK SHADD | Times Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77), left, tangles with Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Josh Anderson (77) during the third period in Game 2 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Friday, April 12, 2019 in Tampa. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) received a game misconduct as the Tampa Bay Lightning lost 5-1.
Published Apr. 14
Updated Apr. 14

COLUMBUS — The Lightning is without one of its top defensemen in addition to its leading scorer for Game 3.

Victor Hedman is not in Sunday’s lineup.

Jon Cooper called it a game-time decision that morning and Hedman did not take warmups.

He missed Saturday’s practice, which Cooper attributed to a combination of body maintenance and being banged up.

He was involved in the scrum that resulted from the hit for which Nikita Kucherov was suspended. Hedman paired off with Josh Anderson; they exchanged jabs, having grabbed each other by the jersey’s neck hole.

Asked if this was the same upper-body injury that kept Hedman out of the final four games of the regular-season, Cooper said he didn’t know.

"You know how Tortorella is, he's trying to get to your best guys, he's trying to hit them,” Mikhail Sergachev. “That's his approach, I think, because I've heard it from a lot of guys who were coached by him. Their tough guys are trying to go after Heddy because he's our best defenseman. But he hasn't changed his game, he's been playing the way he is, it's tough to see that he's a little banged up and may not play tonight. We hope he comes back soon.''

With Nikita Kucherov serving the one-game suspension, the Lightning’s power play is already missing one major piece. Losing Hedman would be another hit.

Sergachev filled in for Hedman at the point when he was out, but it’s also possible the Lightning will reconfigure the whole unit down two big players.

Defenseman Cameron Gaunce was recalled, presumably to have a seventh healthy defenseman if Hedman is not ready to play.

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