Nikita Kucherov has made progress recovering from an upper-body injury, according to Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper, and he will be a game-time decision to play against the Philadelphia Flyers at Amalie Arena on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; SUN, NBCSP, NHL.TV).
Kucherov, who leads the NHL with 82 points (33 goals, 49 assists), has missed the Lightning's past two games. He played 5:19 of the first period of a 4-3 shootout victory at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday before leaving with the injury. The 24-year-old forward did participate and take some shots in the Lightning's optional morning skate before their 5-4 overtime win Thursday at the Dallas Stars, which left Cooper optimistic for his return.
"He's definitely made progress," Cooper told the Tampa Bay Times. "We're hopeful for Saturday. But you never know. Unless he's 100 percent, we're not going to put him in there."
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers on Monday, remains doubtful with an upper-body injury but the Times said he hopes to make his Lightning debut next week.