Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov has been suspended one game for boarding Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara.
The hit came at 15:34 of the third period of Friday night’s Game 2 of the opening round playoff series between the Bolts and Jackets.
Kucherov was given a five-minute major penalty for boarding along with a game misconduct by referee Francis Charron. He also picked up a two-minute minor for the trip that initially sent Nutivaara to the ice.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety called Kucherov’s hit “a dangerous hit to a player in an exposed and defenseless position.”
Columbus was leading 5-1 at the time of the hit, en route to a 2-0 series lead with both wins coming at Tampa’s Amalie Arena.
“Late in the game with the score out of reach, Kucherov delivers this dangerous blow to an opponent he will be facing in the next game,” the league said. “While we understand that frustration often occurs at the end of a game, dangerous or retaliatory plays delivered in the final minutes of a playoff game will be viewed in context and punished accordingly.”
Kucherov has not previously been suspended, but was fined once for tripping.
The Lightning winger’s 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists) led the league in regular-season scoring. He was held scoreless through the first two games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Now he’ll sit for Game 3.