X

Lightning's Nikita Kucherov Played with Fractured Rib Injury in Stanley Cup Final

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 8, 2021

AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack

Tampa Bay Lightning superstar forward Nikita Kucherov played through a fractured rib during the Stanley Cup Final.

Kucherov's agent, Dan Milstein, revealed the nature of the injury Thursday to Joe Smith of The Athletic.

Milstein also told Smith that Kucherov required multiple injections throughout the series after suffering the injury during the Conference Finals on a cross-check by New York Islander defenseman Scott Mayfield in Game 6:

NHL Safety Watch @NHLSafetyWatch

Not sure if it contributed to the injury but Kucherov cross-checked earlier that shift by Mayfield in corner. Was a bit slow to get up there too <a href="https://t.co/7Hp1MA9PAq">pic.twitter.com/7Hp1MA9PAq</a>

Despite the injury, Kucherov managed to play in Tampa's Game 7 win over the Isles, and he was in the lineup for all five Stanley Cup Final games as the Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in the series to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

The 28-year-old Kucherov was the driving force behind Tampa's offensive success during the playoffs, as he appeared in all 23 games and led the team with 32 points. His 24 assists were also tops, while his eight goals were tied with Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn for second on the team behind Brayden Point's 14.

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP thanks to his 16-7 record, 1.90 goals-against average, .937 save percentage and five shutouts, but Kucherov was a strong candidate as well and may have won the award most other years with the numbers he put up.

Making Kucherov's postseason performance even more impressive is the fact that he didn't appear in a single regular-season game in 2020-21 while recovering from a hip injury.

Getting Kucherov back for the playoffs was huge for Tampa's Stanley Cup chances, as he has been one of the most dynamic offensive players in the NHL over the past five years.

Entering this season, Kucherov posted four straight seasons with at least 85 points, including 100 in 2017-18 and a career-high 128 in 2018-19.

Kucherov set career highs in goals (41), assists (87) and points (128) in 2018-19 en route to winning the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, as well as the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer.

After not missing a step in his return from injury during the playoffs and battling through a rib injury to put up huge numbers, Kucherov is poised to return to MVP contention in 2021-22 provided he can stay healthy.

Kucherov set career highs in goals (41), assists (87) and points (128) in 2018-19 en route to winning the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, as well as the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer.

After not missing a step in his return from injury during the playoffs and battling through a rib injury to put up huge numbers, Kucherov is poised to return to MVP contention in 2021-22 provided he can stay healthy.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➑️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.