Lower-body injury to keep Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point out of Game 4 of Eastern Conference finals against New York Rangers

TAMPA -- Center Brayden Point is out for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper confirmed on Monday.

Point hasn't played since Game 7 of the Lightning's first-round series win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, which he left with a lower-body injury after 5:51 of ice time. He had two goals and two assists in that series. Point's 31 goals rank second among all NHL players over the last three postseasons, and his effective two-way play at center was pivotal to the Lightning's back-to-back Stanley Cup wins.

Point had been skating after Lightning team practices, including around an hour of ice time before Game 3 on Sunday. He joined his teammates for an optional skate on Monday morning.

"He's taking a twirl right now," said Cooper, "but he's out for Game 4."

Cooper has cautioned that expectations should be "tempered" about Point's possible return in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"Pointer is playing hockey again. We just don't know if it's this season, next season [or] this round," he said on June 1, when Point skated in full equipment for the first time since his injury. "Is he improving daily? Yes. But it's way too soon to tell now if he's going to be able to play or not. I think the worst of it is over for him now."

The Lightning defeated the Rangers 3-2 in Game 3 on Sunday night, cutting New York's conference final lead to 2-1. Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Tampa.