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Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov leaves Game 6 with apparent injury

The postseason’s top scorer skates off the ice in pain early in the first period.
Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov goes down hard after a hit by Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield during the first period in Game 6. A few plays later, Kucherov left the game.
Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov goes down hard after a hit by Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield during the first period in Game 6. A few plays later, Kucherov left the game. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jun. 24
Updated Jun. 24

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The postseason’s leading scorer, Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, left Wednesday night’s Stanley Cup semifinal after just one shift with an apparent injury.

In the Lightning zone, Kucherov skated toward the corner on the forecheck to put a hit on Islanders forward Mathew Barzal. He hit Barzal awkwardly and played through obvious pain before skating off the ice, then disappearing down the tunnel toward the Lightning locker room.

Kucherov appeared to absorb the worst of the hit — he went into Barzal with his right side — and after making contact, he shook his right shoulder, then skated around while hunched over before leaving the game.

Earlier in game, Kucherov took a crosscheck to his back from Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield.

Kucherov missed the entire regular season recovering from hip surgery, returning to play in the first game of the postseason. He has been the postseason’s top player. He entered the game with a league-best 27 points in the playoffs and was coming off a three-assist Game 5.

Over the past two postseasons, Kucherov has 49 assists. The only player to have more in back-to-back postseasons was Wayne Gretzky.

With Kucherov out of the game, both Yanni Gourde and Tyler Johnson have been filling out the Lightning’s top line along with Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat.

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