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2023 Stanley Cup Final

Florida Panthers Hope Gudas Returns, Luostarinen to Miss Game 3

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Gudas
The Florida Panthers will not have Eetu Luostarinen in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night but hope Radko Gudas will be healthy enough to play. // AP Photos

SUNRISE — Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice said he hoped to have Radko Gudas back for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

The news is not as good for Eetu Luostarinen.

Maurice has ruled out the versatile forward for Game 3 as he is suspected to have a fracture in his lower leg after blocking a shot in the second period of Game 4 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

While Luostarinen did not return for the end of that game, Maurice said he expected him to come back after Florida’s 10-day break.

Luostarinen did practice with the Panthers but left ice during the Game 1 morning skate early and was replaced in the lineup by Zac Dalpe. On Saturday, the Panthers used an extra defenseman what with Gudas hurting from Game 1.

Gudas left Game 2 after taking a big hit from Ivan Barbashev, appearing to his his head on the ice.

He did not practice on Wednesday.

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The loss of Luostarinen hurts the Panthers on a number of different planes.

Because he can play either on the wing or at center, having Luostarinen available gives Maurice options when it comes to mixing up his lines.

There was a thought Luostarinen could center the third line if Anton Lundell remained up with Sasha Barkov and Anthony Duclair, but with him not returning, Maurice and his staff will have to get creative.

“He runs the penalty kill, I can run him up and down the lineup and he’s a natural center iceman,’’ Maurice said. “We lost Sasha Barkov 3 minutes into Game 3 against Carolina, Luostarinen went in that hole and won the game.

“He is an important part of our penalty killing unit and has real nice chemistry with Lundell and Reinhart. So if you watched our previous round in the last four or five minutes of those games, I would run that line and he’s on face-offs, two left-handed and one right-handed center men.

“So we miss him but everybody normally deals with missing one or two important players. There’ll be a list for both teams at the end of this run, the six guys who need surgery, the four guys who need three weeks off. That’s just a function of what will be two months of playoff hockey.”

On Wednesday, Maurice confirmed Sergei Bobrovsky would start Game 3 but grew frustrated when asked how “much leash to give him knowing Alex Lyon has had so much success for you?”

With Bobrovsky leading the Panthers to victory in series against Boston, Toronto and Carolina, there is little doubt who the starting goalie for the Panthers is regardless of Maurice pulling Bobrovsky down 4-0 in Game 2.

“I think you guys have too much time on your hands,’’ Maurice said. “Maybe there’s just too many of you. Do you guys get together and divide up the question pie? You got that question … he was outstanding in Game 1 and he was as good as our team was in Game 2.

“Forty-eight hours before that, you’ve got Tkachuk and Bobrovsky and how are they going to divide the Conn Smythe? I’m not mocking your question, I understand it. But it seems to me things have gotten slightly more extreme. He was a pretty good goalie in Game 1.’’

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 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.

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