Brock Nelson, who missed more than 25 minutes of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals for the Islanders while dealing with the aftereffects of having his face slammed into the glass on a first-period hit to the numbers from Alex Killorn, should be good to go for Friday’s Game 3.
The Lightning’s Brayden Point, who missed the final 34:37 of his team’s 2-1 victory with an apparent lower-body injury that might be a hamstring pull, isn’t quite as good a bet to lace them up.
“Right now, I think he looks like he will be available,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said of Nelson, who played a sum of 10:48, but was in the room for the unsuccessful five-minute power play that followed the Killorn indiscretion. “He came back and he can play, so to me, all signs would indicate that he’ll be playing.”
Nelson’s 15 points (7-8) are two behind club leader Josh Bailey’s 17 (2-15). The center is in a three-way tie with Anders Lee and Jean-Gabriel Pageau for second in goals behind team leader Anthony Beauvillier, who has eight. It was Pageau who took Nelson’s spot in the middle between Bailey and Beauvillier while Nelson was being tended to.
Point, a leading contender for the Conn Smythe, who is second in playoff scoring with 23 points (8-15), two behind Nathan MacKinnon, came up halting on an early second-period shift after absorbing a big hit late in the first. Lightning coach Jon Cooper primarily moved Anthony Cirelli into Point’s spot between Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov.
“It’s hard for me to give an update on Pointer right now,” Cooper said. “We’re off [Thursday] so it would be pointless to talk about it. I’m not trying to keep you in the dark or anything, but I won’t have a better understanding until [Friday] morning.”
Killorn, though, will not be available Friday after being suspended for one game by the NHL Department of Player Safety for the blow against Nelson.
The play was categorized as “a forceful check against the defenseless Nelson, driving him dangerously into the boards … a forceful hit from behind on a defenseless player no longer in possession of the puck.”
Killorn, an eight-year veteran, had never before been suspended, though he had been fined once in his career of 585 regular season games and 83 postseason contests.
Prior to the announcement, Cooper said he’d be “mildly shocked” if the winger were unavailable.
The Lightning could fill in for Killorn with 23-year-old Mitchell Stevens, who has played six games in the tournament, including three against Columbus in the first round after playing in the three round-robin contests. Stevens, who went 3-3=6 in 38 regular-season contests and has one point (1-0) in the playoffs, has skated primarily on a line with Pat Maroon and Cedric Paquette.
Andrew Ladd played 11:50 on 17 shifts during Game 3 in his first game since March 10.
“It was nice to get a game. The first period, things were moving pretty quick but as the game moves along it kind of slows down and you can start making plays and get a lot more comfortable,” said Ladd, who was deficient in coverage on the Lightning’s winning goal at 19:51 of the third period and who got power play time as a net-front presence while Nelson was sidelined. “It was fun to be out there with the group and get a chance to contribute.”