New Jersey Devils Sami Vatanen Questionable for Game 5

Devils drop Game 4 and lose key player after controversial hit

Modal Trigger Andrei Vasilevskiy makes a save as Marcus Johansson looks for a rebound during the Devils 3-1 loss in Game 4 Wednesday night. Getty Images

Unfortunately, Puddy's surprise return wasn't enough to power the Devils to a victory.

Kucherov had two goals and an assist for Tampa Bay in Game 4, and four goals and five assists overall in the series. Critics of the hit cited a precedent set by the one-game suspension given to Kings defenseman Drew Doughty for a similar hit last week on the Golden Knights' William Carrier as the reason Kucherov should sit out a game. Devils' Kyle Palmieritakes advantage of power play to score. The Lightning now lead the series 3-1.

Devils coach John Hynes didn't give out much information about the injury before the Devils left.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper called the Kucherov check "a heck of a hockey hit" after the game, and didn't believe his star winger would be suspended.

The NHL department of player safety determined that Vatanen's head was not the main point of contact on the hit, which is a determining factor for "illegal check to the head" rulings. "The only thing that's down about that is that Vatanen got hurt. To me, it was a good hit", he said. J.T. Miller also scored and had two assists, and Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped three breakaways in making 27 saves. "We deserve to be here, and now we've got to go extend the series". Kucherov controlled his own rebound while jostling with Damon Severson in the low slot, and he lifted the puck over Schneider's left shoulder.

Kucherov finished the game with three points, including the empty-netter that iced it, and is tied for the playoff scoring lead (nine). Their never-quit work ethic has allowed them to make games closer than many expected. Eleven seconds later, New Jersey had its second 5-on-3 goal in two games. He averaged 23:23 in the first three games of the series, but only played 6:46 on Wednesday night.

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