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Lightning's Kucherov skates, probable for Game 6

by Shawn Roarke

CHICAGO -- Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov took the morning skate Monday and is probable for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports), coach Jon Cooper said.

"Go in football terms; how do they go?" Cooper said when asked about Kucherov's status. "Probable. I'll go probable."

Kucherov handled the puck and took shots during the practice.

"I'm going to take warm-up and then it's up to coach if I play or not," Kucherov said after the skate.

Kucherov, 21, was injured in the first period of Game 5 on Saturday at Amalie Arena when he tripped awkwardly over Chicago goalie Corey Crawford and crashed shoulder-first into the goal post. He left the ice in pain and did not return. The Blackhawks won the game 2-1.

If Kucherov is able to play, it will be a big boost for the Lightning, who trail the best-of-7 series 3-2 and must win Monday at United Center to avoid elimination.

Kucherov is second on the Lightning in goals (10), assists (12), points (22), power-play goals (three) and game-winning goals (three) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Linemate Tyler Johnson's 13 goals and 23 points lead the playoffs.

"Obviously [Kucherov] has been a huge part of why we've been successful," Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said Sunday. "A clutch player, scored some big goals. Very good player. Hopefully he's back.

"But we found a way to come back in a game that we were down one and tie it, give ourselves a chance. Every game could have gone either way this series. That's the beauty of this sport, how close the series really is. We're hoping that he's back. If not, we have guys that are capable. We've proved that before. We just got to keep believing that."

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