UPDATE: Kucherov was suspended for Game 3 Sunday in Columbus.
Nikita Kucherov could be facing a suspension following an illegal hit to Markus Nutivaara in the third period of Friday's Game 2, and it wasn't pretty, folks.
Kucherov will have a hearing with NHL Player Safety on Saturday to determine his fate regarding his hit.
Tampa Bays Nikita Kucherov will have a hearing tomorrow for Boarding Columbus Markus Nutivaara.— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) April 13, 2019
With minutes to play and his team down 5-1, Kucherov tripped Nutivaara, and proceeded to follow up with a nasty blow to the Jacket defenseman's head along the boards.
Jeremy Roenick of the NBCSN crew didn't mince words, saying in the postgame show that he'd "give [Kucherov] one game" for a suspension.
“I think we'll see something that leads into the next game and I wonder if Kucherov will be there for that one. That's a terrible hit,” Roenick said.
“He gets a game for sure,” Anson Carter would say on he same postgame show.
Others soon chimed in:
Do you think this hit by Nikita Kucherov is suspension-worthy?https://t.co/Z58XtShmrZ— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 13, 2019
With that Kucherov hit in mind, heres a thread of suspensions from the 2018-19 preseason and regular season. https://t.co/BawpPhHobA— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 13, 2019
Here is that thing about the Kucherov hit:— Catherine Silverman (@catmsilverman) April 13, 2019
It was intentional
It was avoidable
It was not clean
Can not possibly see the justification for it, whether you miss old school hockey or not.
Catherine Silverman of The Athletic hits the nail on the head. With the hit coming when it did, late in the game, Kucherov was clearly taking out his frustration from a blowout loss with a classless shot.
Toronto's Nazem Kadri was given a three-game suspension for a similar hit in the playoffs last season.
Whether the NHL's leading scorer will be available for Game 3 in Columbus will come down a decision from NHL Player Safety.