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

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2021

Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov played through a non-displaced rib fracture in the Stanley Cup Final.

"He played with a flak jacket from that point on and also had a nerve block injection the day before every game," general manager Julien BriseBois told reporters Tuesday. "It makes his performance during these playoffs both before the injury and post-broken rib all the more impressive."

Kucherov finished with three goals and two assists in the series as the Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens in five games. For the postseason as a whole, he put up 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists) after having not played up to that point all year.

BriseBois confirmed in December that Kucherov would miss the 2020-21 regular season because of hip surgery.

Despite missing their points leader from the past three years, the Lightning qualified for the playoffs after finishing third in the Central Division.

It took a collective effort to account for the production Tampa Bay lost, with Victor Hedman, Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde all stepping up. Steven Stamkos was delivering as well with 34 points through 38 games before a lower-body injury curtailed his regular season.

After getting healthy enough to play again, Kucherov made a major impact for the Lightning, and news of his rib injury will make his performance even more legendary in the eyes of fans.