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Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point, who has been out with a lower-body injury since May 14, will not play Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Joe Smith of The Athletic relayed the news from Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper.
Joe Smith @JoeSmithTB
Jon Cooper said Brayden Point won’t play in Game 3. Likely same lineup.
Point has dominated in each of Tampa Bay’s previous two runs to the Stanley Cup. He posted 14 goals and 19 assists in 23 games in 2020 before recording 14 goals and nine assists in 23 games in 2021.
Point had 28 goals and 30 assists in 66 regular-season games before adding two goals and two assists in the Lightning’s seven-game first-round series win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
However, Point hasn’t played since. ESPN provided more information May 18:
“Point, a first-line center and staple on the Tampa Bay power play, did not play in the Lightning’s Game 1 victory [against the Florida Panthers] on [May 17] after going hard into the boards in [the May 14] Game 7 vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs. He left that game with what was called a lower-body injury, briefly returned in the second period, but couldn’t put any weight on his right leg and sat out the remainder of his team’s victory.”
Point skated with the team Friday for the third day in a row, though Cooper acknowledged he isn’t necessarily expected back, per Tom Gulitti of NHL.com: “He’s continuing to progress, but we’re not sitting here saying, ‘Oh, he’s going to miraculously come out for Game 3.’ No.”
Cooper said something similar Wednesday.
“We’re planning to play without him,” he said, per Lightning beat writer Chris Krenn. “If he gets to play in this series, that’s a bonus for everybody.”
The Lightning could certainly use him after falling behind 2-0. New York has outscored the two-time defending champions 9-4.
Tampa Bay will host Game 3 at 3 p.m. ET.