Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk miraculously returns after taking BRUTAL hit from Golden Knights’ Keegan Kolesar to score late equalizer in Game 3 of Stanley Cup Finals
- Tkachuk returned to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night
- The Panthers star took a brutal hit and momentarily appeared to be injured
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Florida Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk returned to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Thursday night to score the equalizer with two minutes left in the third period following a scary first-period hit from Vegas Golden Knights forward Keegan Kolesar.
Kolesar delivered an open-ice hit on Tkachuk six minutes into Game 3, which Florida won, 3-2, in overtime.
Tkachuk stumbled as he was trying to get up and skate to the bench. He talked to a trainer on the bench before going back on the ice for the start of a Florida power play. Tkachuk went down the tunnel not long after, missed the remainder of the first period and did not return immediately after the intermission.
Tkachuk rejoined his teammates on the bench a few minutes into the second. When he stepped back onto the ice for his first shift since leaving, fans cheered and chanted, ‘Chucky! Chucky!’ It was not immediately clear if his absence was because one of the NHL’s concussion spotters pulled Tkachuk, or if the 25-year-old did not feel right.
In any case, Tkachuk tied the game with two minutes left in the third after Florida pulled netminder Sergei Bobrovsky for the man advantage. Carter Verhaeghe ultimately scored the game winner in overtime.
Tkachuk returned to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night after the Kolesar hit
Keegan Kolesar of the Vegas Golden Knights hits Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers
After being named a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP during the regular season, Tkachuk has been Florida’s best skater on its improbable run from the last team to qualify for the playoffs and No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference to the final.
He had the primary assist on Brandon Montour’s goal that opened the scoring 4:08 in.
That was just Tkachuk’s second point of the series, fewer than his three misconducts.
With Tkachuk unavailable, Florida gave up a tying goal on a Vegas power play with 3:57 left in the first. The Golden Knights lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 heading into Saturday’s Game 4.
Tkachuk was on the other side of a big hit in Game 2, when he leveled Vegas star Jack Eichel.
Tkachuk was on the other side of a big hit in Game 2, when he levelled Vegas star Jack Eichel
Eichel quickly skated off and retreated to the locker room, for more than a few moments putting a scare into the Vegas Golden Knights late in the second period of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Instead of his night being over, Eichel returned for the third period and set up the fifth goal of seven in a rout of the Florida Panthers that put Vegas up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series and two wins away from a championship.
The hit debated ’round the hockey world was quickly determined by all involved to be clean, and Eichel’s bounce back to play another important role in this playoff run only further exemplified a team mantra that ‘it hurts to win.’
Players, after checking in with Eichel at intermission to make sure he was OK, repeated that phrase over and over.