Matthew Tkachuk was back in the visitors’ locker room at T-Mobile Arena as Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final went on with out him.
For the second consecutive game in this series, Tkachuk was not on the ice nor the bench for the final minutes as he had been sent away with a 10-minute misconduct.
This one, which came with 5:59 left was his second misconduct of the night — and third of the series.
Tkachuk ended Monday’s 7-2 loss with a goal, a roughing and a pair of misconducts.
If a Gordie Howe Hat Trick is a goal, assist and a fight in the same game, Florida’s top agitator probably could have this one named for him.
Only Tkachuk is not sure why he got the first one and, he is not alone.
It all started when Tkachuk raced off the bench and into the play. Jack Eichel was skating up the ice with his head down, saw Tkachuk barreling down on him at the last second and tried to slam on the brakes.
The toe pick of Eichel’s skate caught, he started going down and then ran straight into Tkachuk.
It was a big hit and it appeared Eichel was hurt as he went straight into the room.
“I came off the bench, saw him down the middle of the ice with his head down,” Tkachuk said. “I don’t care who you are, you shouldn’t be going down the middle of the ice with your head down. You’re going to get hit. I would get hit. It’s not a big deal. He is a really good player but really good players get hit.”
The Vegas players on the ice took umbrage for the hit and went after Tkachuk. It was a whole thing.
When it was all cleared up, Tkachuk got 2 minutes for roughing and 10-minutes in the room. Ivan Barbashev, who knocked Radko Gudas from the game in the first, left with him.
Eichel came back for the third period and when asked about it afterward, called it a good, clean hit.
Tkachuk, obviously, did not get a penalty for the hit on Eichel but for what happened afterward even though he was not the aggressor as Vegas players jumped him.
“I was a little bit surprised by it,” Tkachuk said. “I went to the bench to get ready for a power play. I think one of those misconducts I deserved but don’t know about the other one.
“At the end of the day, they may have thought that game was maybe out of reach in the second period. But we didn’t. We have scored seven goals in a period. You never know in the playoffs.”
He probably meant “four goals” since it was 4-0 at the time, but, whatever.
Tkachuk eventually came back into the game and scored off a Sam Bennett rebound to make it 6-2 with 7:16 remaining.
Things started up again soon afterward and Tkachuk was once again shown his way to the room.
This time, he had plenty of company as it became the Orange Bowl Parade off the ice.
Casey Fitzgerald was first to join him, followed by Anthony Duclair, Eric Staal, Nick Cousins and Sam Reinhart.
By the end of the game, Paul Maurice was running out of players to throw out there.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
THE 2023 STANLEY CUP FINAL
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
GAME 3 (Vegas leads 2-0)
- When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV: TNT
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, WPOW 96.5 FM2, WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Series Schedule — Game 1: @Vegas 5, Florida 2; Game 2: @Vegas 7, Florida 2; Game 3: Thursday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 4: Saturday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 5*:Tuesday June 13 at Vegas, 8 (TNT); Game 6*: Friday June 16 at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 7*: Monday June 19 at Vegas, 8 (TNT). * – If Necessary
- 2022-23 Regular Season Series (Even 1-1): @Vegas 4, Florida 2 (Jan. 12); @Florida 2, Vegas 1 (March 7)
- All-time Regular Season Series: Golden Knights lead 6-3-1
- Postseason History: First meeting
- How They Got Here — Vegas: d. Winnipeg in 5, Edmonton in 6, Dallas in 6; Florida: d. Boston in 7, Toronto in 5, Carolina in 4.