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Lightning’s Erik Cernak leaves in third period after hit into boards

Earlier in the series, the defenseman left in the third period of Game 3. Only this time, he returned.
Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) gets checked by New York Islanders left wing Matt Martin (17) along the boards during the third period of Game 4.
Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) gets checked by New York Islanders left wing Matt Martin (17) along the boards during the third period of Game 4. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jun. 20
Updated Jun. 20

The Lightning dodged another bullet to their blue line Saturday when Erik Cernak returned to play after a hit into the boards from Islanders forward Matt Martin.

With just under 12 minutes to go in their 3-2 loss at Nassau Coliseum, Cernak was skating toward the corner to grab the puck off the wall when he was checked sideways into the boards by Martin.

Cernak was slow to get up and skated to the bench before leaving for the dressing room. He held his right arm in a bent position as he walked down the hallway.

But just about 2-1/2 minutes later, Cernak returned to the bench.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after the game that Cernak should be available for Game 5 Monday at Amalie Arena.

“Every indication right now is he’s going to be okay,” Cooper said.

This isn’t the first postseason scare for Cernak. He and defenseman Jan Rutta were unable to finish Game 3 on Thursday. Following the game, Cooper said both players were fine.

Cernak has posted a career-high seven points (all assists) in 14 playoff games this season.

On Saturday, he tied for the team lead with four hits (along with Steven Stamkos, Ryan McDonagh and Blake Coleman). Cernak’s 40 hits this postseason trail only Anthony Cirelli (44) and Coleman (46).

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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