The Tampa Bay Lightning will be without defenseman Erik Cernak for Game 2 of their quarter-final series against the Toronto Maple Leafs – and the status of 2020 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Victor Hedman is uncertain.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper spoke to the media on Wednesday and provided updates on all injured players on his team. He indicated that Cernak and Mikey Eyssimont will miss Game 2 on Thursday after making early Game 1 exits.
Although Jake McCabe was not penalized for his hard blow who injured Eyssimont on Tuesday, Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting is scheduled for a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for an illegal head check and interference on Cernak.
Cernak, 25, recorded 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) and a 19:14 average in 70 games with the Lightning during the 2022-23 regular season. The Slovak defenseman was part of Tampa’s Stanley Cup teams in 2020 and 2021.
Cooper added that Hedman will be a game-time decision on Thursday after registering just 6:35 in Tampa’s 7-3 Game 1 win over the Maple Leafs. The 32-year-old Swede remains Tampa’s top defenseman and regularly plays up to 25 minutes per game.
Also on the injury front, Cooper hinted at the possibility of winger Tanner Jeannot returning to the Lightning roster in time for Game 2. Jeannot has been out with an upper-body injury since April 6.
« I feel really good, » Jeannot said during a press briefing on Wednesday. “I just have to wait and see I guess, but everything is going really well and the coaches have done a great job and I feel good on the ice.
The Lightning enjoy a 1-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal playoff series against the Maple Leafs, with Game 2 scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. ET Thursday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.