Lightning coach Cooper expects Kucherov to play in Game 4 of Stanley Cup Finals

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Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper expects All-Star Nikita Kucherov to play in Game 4 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday despite an injury concern.

Kucherov exited Game 3 on Monday, as the Lightning won 6-2 over the Colorado Avalanche, with 6:05 remaining in the third period after a push from Devon Toews.

The Russian tangled with Toews after being slammed into the ice and boards and was involved in the ensuing power play but left hobbling for the trainers' room soon after.

"As I sit right now, I think he can play tomorrow," Cooper told reporters on Tuesday.

"But I'm not Kuch. If I know Kuch, he's sitting there saying the same thing. But we'll see what the doctors and everybody says."

Kucherov has been the Lightning's leading points scorer over this season's Stanley Cup playoffs, adding seven goals to his 19 assists.

The 29-year-old has been a creative force for the reigning Stanley Cup champions in important moments this post-season, namely his extraordinary game-winning backhand assist for Ross Colton in Game 2 against the Florida Panthers to set up a 2-0 series lead.

Cooper added: "I think so. I hope so. It's always difficult when the game is 12 hours ago or whatever it was. A lot can happen over the next two days.

"Am I glad there's a day off between games? Yes. We'll see how he is tomorrow."

Cooper said that Kucherov has played through pain before, including in the 2021 playoffs when he had a cracked rib.

The Lightning, who are chasing a rare Stanley Cup three-peat, trail 2-1 in the series after losing both games in Colorado.