National Hockey League slaps Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov with one-game suspension

Nikita Kucherov suspended 1 game for boarding Markus Nutivaara

We just have to focus on Game 3.

Tampa now is fighting from behind, with the Blue Jackets taking a commanding 2-0 series lead in Friday night's Game 2 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Victor Hedman and Josh Anderson were also ejected from the game in the ensuing scrum. Kucherov might be this year's Hart Trophy-winner as league MVP, as he led the league with 128 points during the regular season. The DOPS determined that on the play, Kucherov skated toward the "defenseless Nutivaara, lowered himself for contact, and drives him into the boards", according to a video explanation released on Saturday.

The incident occurred at 15:34 of the third period with the Lightning down 5-1.

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Since jumping out to a 3-0 lead in Game 1, the Lightning have been out-scored 9-1, and they'll look to cut their series deficit in half without the Russian on Sunday night as the series shifts to Columbus.

"Kucherov takes advantage of this situation to deliver a risky hit to a player in an exposed and defenseless position", the video stated. His absence would be another notable one, but there's some optimism he'll play Game 3. He led the National Hockey League in both assists and points. Now they have the Tampa Bay on the ropes and are enticingly closer to winning the first playoff series in franchise history.

The memory of last season's outcome should act as a chip on the shoulders of the Blue Jackets as they aim to win their first playoff series in franchise history.

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