Nino Niederreiter will be a game-time decision for the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Second Round against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).
The forward practiced Monday for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury at practice May 29 that kept him out of the first four games of the series. He was at left wing on the third line with center Jordan Martinook and Martin Necas. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Niederreiter would skate in warmups before a determination is made.
Carolina trails 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.
“We’re hopeful that he’ll play,” Brind’Amour said of Niederreiter on Monday. “That was his first practice with us in a long time, but it was a good sign. He looked good and we obviously need him. We’ve got some goal-scoring ability when you add him in there for sure.”
Niederreiter scored 20 goals in 56 games during the regular season, second on the Hurricanes behind forward Sebastian Aho (24 in 56 games). He’s scored one goal in six games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Obviously we miss him,” Necas said. “He’s a big part of our team. We miss a few guys right now, but if he’s going to come in, and it seems like he will, then it’s a big help for us and I’m excited to play with him.”
Warren Foegele and Vincent Trocheck did not practice Monday, but Brind’Amour said each will also be a game-time decision Tuesday after skating in warmups.
Foegele, who played in Game 4 on Saturday, sustained an upper-body injury when the forward was hit by Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak with 2:20 remaining in the second period of the Hurricanes’ 3-2 overtime win in Game 3 on Thursday.
Trocheck has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury sustained when he collided with Foegele late in the second period of a 2-1 loss in Game 2 on Tuesday. The center returned for the third period of that game but played one 16-second shift before leaving.
Trocheck scored 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) in 47 regular-season games, second on the Hurricanes to Aho (57 points), and has scored three points (two goals, one assist) in eight playoff games.
Foegele scored 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 53 regular-season games and has scored two points (one goal, one assist) in 10 playoff games.
Brind’Amour said he hasn’t decided who will start in goal for Game 5. Petr Mrazek played the past two games and was 1-1 with a 3.90 goals-against average and an .873 save percentage. He allowed six goals on 26 shots in a 6-4 loss in Game 4.
Alex Nedeljkovic started the first two games of the series and was 0-2 with a 2.04 GAA and .911 save percentage. He started Carolina’s first eight playoff games and is 4-4 with a 2.18 GAA, a .920 save percentage and one shutout.
The Hurricanes are trying to avoid elimination with the series returning to PNC Arena; Carolina was 20-3-5 at home during the regular season and is 3-2 there during the playoffs.
“We have to make sure we’re taking one game at a time, and like I’ve said before, our group doesn’t quit,” defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. “We’re going to play well tomorrow and go just one day at a time right now and see where it takes us.”