TAMPA — The Lightning were without top-line center Brayden Point for their Atlantic Division game against the Maple Leafs Thursday at Amalie Arena.
Point missed the game with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day, the team announced before the game.
Afterward, head coach Jon Cooper said the Lightning are hoping Point will be back for Saturday’s game against the Predators.
It was the first game that Point has missed since he returned to the lineup on Dec. 28, following a shoulder injury that sidelined him for 14 games.
He is second on the team with 27 goals and third in points with 55.
With Point out, Steven Stamkos became the top-line center, flanked by wings Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov.
Point did not practice Wednesday after playing 18:34 of a 4-3 loss to the Red Wings on Tuesday. Thursday’s morning skate was optional.
Point hasn’t missed action for a lower-body injury since he left Game 2 of the 2020 Eastern Conference final against the Islanders with a groin injury. He returned for Game 4 but missed Game 5 before the Lightning won the series in six games.
It isn’t out of the norm for the team to rest players heading into the playoffs, but Thursday’s game carried importance in terms of seeding.
The Lightning entered the night trailing the Maple Leafs by eight points for second place in the division and closed the gap to six with an 8-1 win. With just five games left in the regular season, Tampa Bay is almost assured of starting the postseason on the road.
The Maple Leafs could be the Lightning’s opening-round opponent if Tampa Bay holds off Boston for third place in the division. The Lightning were three points ahead of the fourth-place Bruins following Thursday’s games.
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