Monday, 17 June, 2019

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

Nikita Kucherov boarding Nikita Kucherov suspended 1 game for boarding Markus Nutivaara
Cary Erickson | 14 April, 2019, 14:41

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov has been suspended one game after boarding Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara on Friday night during Game 2 of the teams' first-round series.

The NHL announced Kucherov will be having a hearing related to his hit on Saturday.

"I think we should still have a sour taste in our mouth from past year", said winger Cam Atkinson, who scored the first goal for Columbus in the 5-1 rout of Tampa Bay on Friday.

The hit may not have been intentionally high as Nutivaara went down to his knees, but Kucherov clearly hit him heavy to the head when he sent him to the boards.

Cam Atkinson opened the scoring just 5:15 into the game and Zach Werenski doubled the lead for Columbus just after the midway point of the opening period, giving the Jackets a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.

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Hits like this often result in the NHL's now notable "five and a game" situation in which the player is penalized both in the game and a suspension in the team's next outing.

As expected, Kucherov has been suspended for Sunday night's Game 3 in Columbus. But Kucherov is out after what the National Hockey League called a "dangerous hit on a player in an exposed position".

Kucherov finished the year with 41 goals and 87 assists.

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. Now they have the Tampa Bay on the ropes and are enticingly closer to winning the first playoff series in franchise history.