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Lightning’s Jon Cooper not ruling out Nikita Kucherov for Game 4 vs. Avalanche

Brayden Point, who missed Monday’s Game 3 win, is “highly doubtful” for Wednesday.
Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, front, is taken down by Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews during the third period of Game 3 on Monday night.
Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, front, is taken down by Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews during the third period of Game 3 on Monday night. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP ]
Published Jun. 21|Updated Jun. 21

TAMPA — Just as the Lightning seem to have found their rhythm following Monday’s Game 3 win against Colorado, their journey to even the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final isn’t without potential hurdles.

Coach Jon Cooper’s team may have to pull off a Game 4 win without center Brayden Point. And while Cooper is more hopeful on right wing Nikita Kucherov’s status, nothing is certain.

Cooper said Tuesday that Brayden Point is day-to-day. “That’s probably the best I can give you,” Cooper said. “Highly doubtful, doubtful for (Wednesday).”

Related: Lightning bounce back, claim first win in Stanley Cup final

Kucherov — who left in the third period Monday night after taking a cross-check to his back hip from Colorado’s Devon Toews — should be OK for Game 4, according to Cooper.

“I think so. I hope so,” Cooper said. “It’s always difficult when the game was literally 12 hours ago, whatever it was. A lot can happen in the next two days.”

He added: “As I sit right now, I think he can play (Wednesday). But I’m not Kuch. But if I know Kuch, he’s sitting there saying the same thing. But we’ll see what the doctor says about that.”

After the hit from Toews, Kucherov remained on the ice for the ensuing power play, but appeared in pain after taking a one-timer from the right circle and immediately skated to the bench before hobbling down the tunnel.

Toews said he was just trying to play Kucherov tight, taking away his time and space.

“If he got hurt on it, it’s unfortunate, but I’m not trying to hurt anyone out here,” Toews said. “I’m just trying to play him tight, not letting him have the time and space to make plays.”

ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported that no supplemental discipline is expected for Toews.

Point missed his first game of this series and 11th of the postseason. He sustained a lower-body injury in Game 7 of the opening round against Toronto and missed all of the second round against the Panthers and conference final versus the Rangers. Forward Riley Nash filled in as the 12th forward Monday.

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

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