NHL News: Nikita Kucherov returns to practice for Lightning; Rangers place Igor Shesterkin on IR

Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov skated with the team Saturday morning, his first practice participation since surgery in late October.

Coach Jon Cooper told reporters Kucherov’s brief time on the ice “does not trigger anything new in his timeline” and cautioned that the forward is “still quite a ways off.”

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Kucherov working his way back

Kucherov, 28, hasn’t played since Oct. 16 when he sustained a lower-body injury during a game against the Washington Capitals.

On Oct. 27, the team announced that the two-time Stanley Cup champion had undergone a surgical procedure and would be out eight to 10 weeks.

Cooper said earlier this week that Kucherov likely would not return until after the new year.

“But it’s great to have him out here with the guys,” Cooper said Saturday.

Kucherov has one goal and three assists in three games this season.

He missed the 2020-21 regular season after hip surgery in December but returned with a flourish in the playoffs, recording 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists) in 23 games to help the Lightning repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

He won the Hart Memorial Trophy, Art Ross Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award in 2018-19 after scoring a career-high 41 goals and leading the league in assists (87) and points (128).

Kucherov has 551 points (222 goals, 329 assists) in 518 career regular-season games since making his debut in 2013.

Rangers place Igor Shesterkin on IR

Igor Shesterkin injury
Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers is injured during the third period against the San Jose Sharks and is helped off the ice at Madison Square Garden on December 03, 2021 in New York City. The Rangers shutout the Sharks 1-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Igor Shesterkin had to be helped off the ice at 5:08 of the third period of last night’s 1-0 win over the San Jose Sharks. The 25 year-old netminder was dealing with an apparent right leg injury after making a save and diving on the rebound during a scrum in front of the net. He appeared unable to put weight on his right leg.

Shesterkin made 19 saves before he left the game. Alexandar Georgiev came on to save all nine shots he faced to complete the combined shutout.

“They’re telling me it’s not as bad as it looked,” Gerard Gallant said after the game. “They told me not to worry.” Shesterkin will likely have an MRI with an update to follow this weekend.

“It’s not major yet,” Gallant continued. “The trainer just said don’t worry about it. That’s all he told me, minor lower-body (injury).”

Today, the New York Rangers announced that Igor Shesterkin has been placed on IR. He will miss the next 7 days and at least three games. Adam Huska was called up from their AHL affiliate in Hartford.

Shesterkin this season is 13-3-2 with a .937 SV% and a 2.05 GAA.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report