Lightning’s Brayden Point out for Game 3 of East finals vs. Islanders

The Lightning took the ice Friday night for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals witout their top center, Brayden Point, who appeared to suffer an injury in Game 2 vs. the Islanders.

Point went to the locker room for treatment following a shift in the second period Wednesday and did not return. The Tampa Bay Times reported that Point, Tampa Bay’s No. 1 center, appeared to tweak a hamstring.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper offered no details after Game 2 about an injury or Point’s status. He said only that there was “a possibility” Point would not be available for Game 3. NHL rules prohibit teams in the bubble from disclosing information about injuries or illnesses.

Cooper remained vague after the team’s morning skate Friday. “You’ll have to tune in to find out what the lineup is tonight,” he said, per NHL.com. There was some optimism earlier in the day that he would play as Point was on the ice for morning skate.

Tampa Bay finished Game 2 with nine forwards after Point’s exit and Alex Killorn’s first-period game misconduct for boarding New York’s Brock Nelson. The NHL suspended Killorn for Game 3.

Carter Verhaeghe and Mitchell Stephens replaced Point and Killorn in the Lightning’s lineup Friday.

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Point, 24, is second among NHL players with 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in the postseason (1.53 PTS/GP in 15 games).  He was third on the team with 64 points (25 goals, 39 assists) in 66 games during the regular season. Tampa Bay has been without its second-best points-getter, captain Steven Stamkos, for the entire postseason.

Tampa Bay managed to win Game 2, 2-1, on a goal by one of those nine remaining forwards, Nikita Kucherov, with 8.8 seconds remaining in regulation. The Lightning lead the best-of-seven East finals two games to none.

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