The N.H.L.’s scoring champion, Nikita Kucherov, was suspended by the league on Saturday for Game 3 of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Kucherov was suspended for boarding Columbus defenseman Markus Nutivaara late in Tampa Bay’s 5-1 loss on Friday night. Kucherov was given a major penalty and ejected for hitting Nutivaara in a defenseless position with 4 minutes 26 remaining. Tampa Bay trails in the series, 2-0.
The Lightning, who had the league’s best regular-season record, will have to try to win in Columbus on Sunday without the player who put up a league-best 128 points during the season. They also could be without the banged-up star defenseman Victor Hedman, who did not practice on Saturday.
Tampa Bay Coach Jon Cooper said he hoped Hedman could play. But Kucherov is out after what the N.H.L. called a “dangerous hit on a player in an exposed position.”
In a video announcing the suspension, the league said Kucherov’s action fell in the category of message-sending because it came in the final minutes of a one-sided game.
U.S. WOMEN REACH FINAL The United States soared into the gold medal game at the women’s world hockey championships in Espoo, Finland, by routing Russia, 8-0, behind two goals each by Hilary Knight and Kelly Pannek.
The undefeated Americans will go for their fifth straight title Sunday against Finland, which jolted Canada, 4-2, in the other semifinal.
“We really hit our stride in the second period tonight and were able to generate a lot of offense,” United States Coach Bob Corkum said. “We’re one step closer to what we came here for and couldn’t be more excited.”
Goalie Alex Rigsby of the United States made 11 stops for her second shutout of the tournament.
Finland goalie Noora Raty, playing in her hometown, made 43 saves in sending her country past the heavily favored Canadians. The United States and Canada had met in all 18 previous world championship finals.