Lightning's Kucherov suspended for Game 3

Kucherov could face suspension for hit on Nutivaara

Game 3 of the series is scheduled for Sunday in Columbus. 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.

Not only is the Tampa Bay Lightning in a stunning 2-0 hole to the Blue Jackets as their first-round series heads to Columbus, but the Bolts will also be without their best player when they hit the ice for Game 3.

Kucherov received the one-game ban after boarding Blue Jackets defenceman Markus Nutivaara late in the third period of Friday's 5-1 Columbus victory.

Or, as coach Jon Cooper put it: "This is a five-alarm fire".

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The Blue Jackets are facing top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning, the team that won the Presidents' Trophy for best overall record in the National Hockey League, ending the regular season 62-16.

Now, Kucherov is not known as a dirty player and has not been hit with a suspension before for such a hit, but in last year's playoffs he faced one when the Lightning took on the Devils.

Kucherov, who led the league in scoring with 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists), is the favorite for the Hart Trophy, given to the league's MVP.

The Lightning is already at a two-game deficit entering Game 3 against the Blue Jackets, but now the team may have to find a way to win without its star defenseman, already knowing it's without a star forward. Now they have the Tampa Bay on the ropes and are enticingly closer to winning the first playoff series in franchise history.

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