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.
Late in the third period with Tampa trailing, Kucherov trips Nutivaara behind the Columbus net. Nutivaara falls into the boards. He is on his knees when Kucherov comes in for a hit. The puck is on Nutivaara’s stick before the hit, but Kucherov’s elbow goes into Nutivaara’s head.
The hit bears some resemblance to the one Toronto’s Nazem Kadri put on Tommy Wingels last postseason. Kadri was suspended three games.
Losing Kucherov for a game is a big blow to Tampa, whose offense is not keeping pace with Columbus. Kucherov scored 128 points this season (41 goals and 87 assists), the most the NHL has seen since Jaromir Jagr scored 161 in 1995-96. Columbus leads the series 2-0.
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