The NHL department of player safety has announced that Tampa Bay forward Nikita Kucherov has been suspended one playoff game for boarding Columbus defender Markus Nutivaara. He played in all 82 regular-season games and led the National Hockey League with 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists).
Blue Jackets: 9-1-0, averaging 3.7 goals, 5.3 assists, 1.4 penalties and 3.1 penalty minutes while giving up 2.1 goals per game with a.923 save percentage. Kucherov scored 128 points this season (41 goals and 87 assists), the most the National Hockey League has seen since Jaromir Jagr scored 161 in 1995-96.
Kucherov has zero points through the first two games of the series.
Braydon Coburn and Ryan Callahan draw into the lineup tonight in place of Hedman and Kucherov.
Defenseman Victor Hedman missed the last few regular season games for Tampa Bay due to an upper-body injury. A 48-point scorer during the regular season, with five power play goals, Gourde scored a goal in Game 1 last Wednesday night.
Kucherov was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit on Nutivaara, which occurred at 15:34 of the third period. His absence would be another notable one, but there's some optimism he'll play Game 3.
The league ruled that Nutivaara was in an "exposed and defenseless" position when Kucherov delivered a unsafe hit that drove him into the boards.
The Blue Jackets, who have never won a playoff series, coughed up a 2-0 series deficit to the eventual Cup champion Washington Capitals a year ago.