Nikita Kucherov has been suspended for one game for his illegal hit on Markus Nutivaara in Game 2, according to NHL Player safety. This announcement was made on Saturday afternoon, after Kucherov's hearing that morning regarding the hit.
Tampa Bays Nikita Kucherov has been suspended for one game for Boarding Columbus Markus Nutivaara. https://t.co/VcQW77cQd1
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) April 13, 2019
The hit by Kucherov occurred in the waining minutes of Friday night's Game 2 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets. For a Lightning team that already finds themselves in a 2-0 deficit, this is not the news they wanted to hear.
— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) April 13, 2019
Kucherov's hit was certainly suspension-worthy, though. The penalty immediately drew comparisons to a similar hit in last season's playoffs by Nazem Kadri who received a three-game suspension for his actions.
Both hits were on a defenseless player and almost clearly with ill-intent, but Kadri's history (three prior suspensions) surely led to the nature of it being three games.
Kucherov, on the other hand, has never had a history of suspension, though he was fined $5,000 for a slew-foot on Feb 2. of this year.
The absensnce of the NHL's regular season leading point-getter will be a huge blow to Tampa Bay, and will spark further momentum to a Columbus team looking to win their first every playoff series.