The Tampa Bay Lightning have a few lineup decisions to make for Game Three of their Eastern Conference Final against the New York Islanders.
First of all, forward Brayden Point may be out of the running. The centre left Game Two Wednesday after he appeared to go down with an injury in the first period. Point played two shifts in the second and did not appear in the third period.
“It’s hard for me to give updates on Point right now,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said Thursday. “We’re actually off today, so it would be pointless to really talk about it. I’m not trying to keep you in the dark or anything, but we won’t have a better understanding until I talk to [the media] tomorrow morning.”
With seven seconds to go in the first period Wednesday, Point spilled awkwardly into the boards in the offensive zone and lost his helmet. He was late returning to the team bench in the second period, then missed the whole third period.
Point is Tampa’s leading scorer and the leading scorer overall remaining in this year’s playoffs. His 23 points in 15 games leads all skaters left in the tournament, although Nathan MacKinnon had 25 points in 15 games prior to Colorado’s elimination at the hands of the Dallas Stars.
Tampa had nine forwards for the remainder of Wednesday’s clash, but they did secure the 2-1 win over the Islanders thanks to a late Nikita Kucherov goal.
Also bounced from Wednesday’s game was forward Alex Killorn, who received a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding New York’s Brock Nelson at 5:51 of the first period. Thursday, Killorn was suspended one game for the incident.
Cooper used Anthony Cirelli on the top line after Point left the game, completing the unit with Ondrej Palat and Kucherov.
It’s expected Cirelli will be back on the top unit if Point can’t play, while Mitchell Stephens or Carter Verhaeghe could also find a spot.