TAMPA, Fla. — Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews on Tuesday defended his penalized cross-check on Nikita Kucherov that injured the Lightning forward late in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Kucherov left Monday’s game and did not have an on-ice celebration with his teammates after Tampa Bay’s 6-2 victory.
“He’s a good player and I’m trying to play him tight,” Toews said Tuesday after an optional practice at Amalie Arena. “Good players, you got to try to take away their time and space and that’s what I was trying to do. If he got hurt on it, it’s unfortunate. I’m not trying to hurt anyone out here. I’m just trying to play him tight and not let him have the time and space to make plays.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper expects Kucherov to play in Game 4.
“I think so; I hope so,” Cooper said Tuesday. “Am I glad there’s a day off in between games? Yes. If you watch last year’s playoffs and everybody knows him and what he went through to finish, it was remarkable. I never count that kid out.”
Cooper was irate about Toews’ play on Kucherov after Game 3.
“When you get asked questions like that, you’re looking for an answer that everybody in the building already knows. It’s a game. It’s a contact game. But guys know what they’re doing,” Cooper said. “Smart, savvy players know what they’re doing with their stick. We all saw it.”
Toews has just eight penalty minutes in 17 games this postseason. He’s averaged 25:29 of ice time per game, second among Avs behind partner Cale Makar (26:43).
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