TAMPA — Center Brayden Point threw his stick over the boards and into the seats in frustration near the end of Saturday’s final practice before the start of the Lightning’s first-round playoff series against the Panthers Sunday night.
It was unclear what happened to Point, who led the team with 23 goals and 48 points in the regular season, but he was clearly upset before skating off under his own power and down the tunnel at Amalie Arena.
Coach Jon Cooper tried to quell any concern after practice, saying, “He got nicked up. He’s fine. No alarm bells.”
The Lightning expected to have Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos back for Game 1 Sunday night in Sunrise. Kucherov didn’t play in the regular season after offseason hip surgery. Stamkos hasn’t played since April 8 because of a lower-body injury. Both have been practicing with the team, and Cooper said Saturday that both have done everything to ensure they’re ready to return.
Said Stamkos, “I’ll be playing.”
The Lightning will be without forward Barclay Goodrow, who is out indefinitely, leaving a void on the third line that will be filled by rookie Ross Colton. “We’re anticipating getting (Goodrow) back,” Cooper said, “but we’re just not sure exactly when, but it won’t be within the next week.”
The Lightning took three days off after their regular-season finale Monday and then held three days of practice. They flew to South Florida on Saturday.
“We went right back to it (with) a couple of good practices,” said forward Ondrej Palat. “It was pretty hard. We went through some structure and did good things and had a good pace. So I think we kept in good shape, and I think everybody’s now excited to get into it.”
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieintheYard.
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