TAMPA — The Lightning placed Nikita Kucherov on long-term injured reserve Tuesday, meaning the star forward will miss at least the next 10 games and 24 days.
Tampa Bay played its first game without Kucherov against the cross-state rival Panthers, losing 4-1 with the Lightning going 0-for-6 on the power play.
Kucherov left Saturday night’s overtime win in Washington D.C. in the third period; he hunched and held his groin area in obvious pain.
The move is retroactive to the last game Kucherov played, so he can’t return before Nov. 13, but he still may be out beyond that.
“There’s nothing we can do about it now, other than hope it’s not too long for him and he gets healthy quick,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said Tuesday night. “And we’ll continue to work hard. ... We’ll address the special teams in the next couple of days.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper didn’t give any timetable on Kucherov’s return earlier in the day, only indicating that it likely won’t be like last season, when he missed the entire 56-game abbreviated regular season recovering from hip surgery. Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev said he expected Kucherov to be back in time to play in the Olympics in early February.
Placing Kucherov on long-term injured reserve provides the Lightning salary cap relief. Kucherov makes $9.5 million this season and carries a daily cap hit of $47,500, according to Cap Friendly.
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