Sun, 13 Jun 2021

Lightning expect two key returns for Game 1 vs. Panthers

Field Level Media
16 May 2021, 01:05 GMT+10

The Tampa Bay Lightning are expected to have forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos back in the lineup for their playoff opener against the Florida Panthers on the road on Sunday.

Kucherov hasn't played since helping the Lightning seal the Stanley Cup title in Game 6 of the finals on Sept. 28.

"I have to adjust real quick and try to slow down the game as much as I can, use my skill and my head to think the game and make the plays," said Kucherov of returning. "I'll adjust to the speed as the series goes on. Hopefully it's not going to take long."

Kucherov, 27, had hip surgery on Dec. 29, causing him to miss the entire regular season. He injured his groin in last season's playoff opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets and said that triggered his issues.

"I think that caused the hip problem too," said Kucherov. "From that game I kind of played through it."

Despite playing through the injury, Kucherov led all players with 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) in the 2020 postseason. He had 85 points (33 goals, 52 assists) in 68 regular-season games, earning his fourth consecutive All-Star nod.

Stamkos, 31, missed the final 16 games of the regular season with a lower body injury. He had 17 goals and 17 assists in 38 games.

The Lightning's captain since 2014, Stamkos has 439 goals and 427 assists in 841 career games since Tampa took him first overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

--Field Level Media

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