Lightning's Kucherov leaves game injured

Right wing Nikita Kucherov is tended to after being injured during the first period.
Right wing Nikita Kucherov is tended to after being injured during the first period.
Published Oct. 2, 2015

TAMPA — RW Nikita Kucherov gave Lightning fans a thrill Thursday night in scoring on the game's first shift.

But then Kucherov gave Tampa Bay a scare when he left the game five minutes later with a lower-body injury after getting hit hard into the boards by Dallas LW Remi Elie.

Though Kucherov didn't return to the 3-2 Lightning win, coach Jon Cooper wasn't overly concerned, saying it shouldn't impact his availability for the Oct. 8 season opener.

"He got banged-up," Cooper said. "But if we're sitting here saying, 'Is he in trouble for opening night?' I don't think so. Maybe for Saturday (the exhibition finale against the Panthers)."

After the hit, Kucherov was attended to by head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan before skating off under his own power. Soon Kucherov headed for the dressing room. He came back midway through the period for a brief skate during a timeout. He must not have liked how he felt and went back to the room.

Kucherov, who scored 29 goals last season as a key cog on the Triplets line, was replaced mostly by LW Jonathan Drouin.

MEDICAL MATTERS: C Cedric Paquette skated for the first time since taking a shot off his left foot Saturday against Dallas. But judging by the way he limped into the dressing room after a brief post-practice workout, Paquette still isn't ready to return. He said he hoped to rejoin the team in practice in the next couple of days and expected to be ready to start the season. "I think next week it should be 100 percent," Paquette said. He was still in pain because of a cut that required five stitches. But he said he thought the injury was going to be worse.

ON POINT: Forward prospect Brayden Point (5 feet 10, 160 pounds) was reassigned to his junior team, Moose Jaw of the Western league, after impressing the Lightning in camp. "He is poised beyond his age (19)," Cooper said. "I think in the past, players with hockey sense, speed and skill … it was just because they were undersized that they never made it. Well, size doesn't really matter any more. If you have a big heart, you compete and have the sense for the game (you can make it in the NHL). Brayden Point has all of those, and it's been fun to watch him."

LEANING LEFT: C Brian Boyle has been playing some left wing, which could help a team with six centers. Boyle, who sometimes played wing in his last season with the Rangers in 2013-14, said it's a minor adjustment. The move could allow Vladislav Namestnikov and Paquette to play center, their natural positions, and Cooper said the team wouldn't miss a beat.

GAME DETAILS: G Ben Bishop said he feels ready for the season after playing his first full game of the preseason, stopping 23 of 25 shots. "I thought he looked really good," Cooper said. "He looked big in there, was challenging." C Valtteri Filppula scored, and RW J.T. Brown tallied the winner with five minutes left. Boyle and D Luke Witkowski each got in a fight.

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LINING UP: Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman and Slater Koekkoek were scratched.