As Tampa Bay trailed 5-1 with under five minutes to go, Kucherov tripped Columbus defenseman Markus Nutivaara and then delivered a unsafe follow-up hit on Nutivaara, which was ruled to be boarding.
Forward Ryan Callahan, a heathy scratch in Games 1 and 2, will replace Kucherov. Kucherov scored 128 points this season (41 goals and 87 assists), the most the National Hockey League has seen since Jaromir Jagr scored 161 in 1995-96. Tampa Bay is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings between these two teams and are 6-1 in the last 7 meetings between these two teams in Columbus.
Defenseman Victor Hedman missed the last few regular season games for Tampa Bay due to an upper-body injury. Among them: Kucherov was in control of the play at all times. I'm already resigned to losing one unit on the event, although there's a good chance I'll have three of my four win plays in the top 10.
The Lightning, which had the NHL's best record (62-16-4, 128 points) in the regular season, now will have to dig themselves out of an 0-2 playoff hole without the league's leading scorer.
Mathew Barzal had two assists in a chippy, physical game that featured a lot of hard hits and some skirmishes, especially in the first two periods - and also after the final buzzer.