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KUCHEROV QUESTIONABLE FOR GAME 7; REF EXPLAINS WHY CALL WASN'T MADE ON CROSSCHECK

JUN 24, 2021  (13H23)      T. TADI
The New York Islanders defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday night to force a Game 7 against the Lightning. The victory wasn't without controversy, though, as the Lightning were forced to play without playoff points leader Nikita Kucherov due to an injury suffered in the first period. With less than two minutes left in the first period, Kucherov was crosschecked in the ribs by Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield. Despite the fact that the play was immediately in front of the referee, no call was made.


Kucherov did not leave the game immediately. However, moments later he tried to hit Mat Barzal and something was clearly off. That's when he would leave the ice and did not return.


According to Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos, he was told by the referees that Mayfield's crosscheck was not considered "malicious" and that's why there was no call on the play. Stamkos clearly disagreed.

"Probably a guy looking for a cheap shot there," said Stamkos referring to Mayfield.

Tampa head coach Jon Cooper said following the game that he didn't think it was in the rulebook that a crosscheck had to be malicious to be called.

"I just know it happened very close to one of the officials," said Cooper. "He didn't see it. Move on."

Cooper added he had no idea if Kucherov would be available for the seventh and deciding game Friday night, although he must have been in a considerable amount of pain to miss an important game like the one Wednesday night. If Kucherov cannot play, that will be a huge loss for the Lightning. He has 27 points in the playoffs so far.


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