The National Hockey League suspended Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk for two games on Sunday for putting his stick in the face of Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick the night before.
Tkachuk will miss tonight’s game against the host Anaheim Ducks as well as Wednesday’s home game against Carolina.
He leads the team in scoring with five goals and 17 points in his first 12 games with the Panthers.
With 38 seconds left in the Panthers’ 5-4 loss to the Kings on Saturday, Tkachuk popped Quick in the face with the Kings later saying it caught him in the eye.
In the final second, Tkachuk and Quick got to an altercation with Tkachuk given a two-minute penalty for goaltender interference and a 10-minute misconduct on the play.
Under the terms of the CBA, Tkachuk will forfeit $102,702.70 of game checks.
The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
”Tkachuk (used) his stick to purposefully uses his stick to poke at Quick, making intentional contact to his head,” the league explained.
Players from the Kings did not take kindly to Tkachuk’s attempt at Quick — with a brawl ensuing in the dying seconds of the game.
Quick went after Tkachuk at the end of the game after the two got tangled up in the crease.
The two were intertwined in the second period when Tkachuk grazed Quick during a power play, Brandon Montour’s point shot hitting Tkachuk and into the back of the net.
But the goal was immediately waved off for goalie interference that Florida challenged. After a long review, the call on the ice stood. Los Angeles took a 3-2 lead on the ensuing power play.
“You can look at the video. It’s a dirty play,” Matt Roy told LA Hockey Now.
“You can see him poke (Quick) in the eye there. Hopefully, the league takes a look at it. It’s a dirty play. Hopefully, the video gets out and they can look at it.”
Per the NHL Players’ Safety department, Tkachuk argued that the stick to Quick’s mask was unintentional.
The league did not see it that way explaining it was not a “reckless use of the stick during the course of a play” but “a controlled and purposeful stick directed to the head of an opponent.”
Tkachuk’s loss is a huge blow for a Florida offense which has gotten off to a slow start to the 2022-23 season.
After leading the NHL in goals last season, the Panthers find themselves ranked 15th in the league — and Tkachuk has a lot to do with those goals.
Of their 37 goals, Tkachuk has a point on 17 of them — accounting for 45 percent of the team’s production.
With forwards Patric Hornqvist and Rudy Balcers both dealing with injuries, the could be short-staffed on the forward lines tonight in Anaheim.
Balcers took a high stick in Saturday’s game and Hornqvist has been out since taking a high hit during Thursday’s game in San Jose.
Florida does have Aleksi Heponiemi up from AHL Charlotte to replace Tkachuk’s spot but would have to play seven defensemen if both Balcers and Hornqvist are out.
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT ANAHEIM DUCKS
- When: Sunday, 9 p.m.
- Where: Honda Center, Anaheim
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; NHL Network
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 2-0
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 20-14-2, 3 ties