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Matthew Tkachuk Fights Nico Hischier in Payback for Barkov Hit



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Referees Chris Rooney and Libor Suchanek attempt to break up a fight between New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier and Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk in the final minute of the Devils’ 4-2 win in Sunrise. The Devils defeated the Panthers 4-2. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

SUNRISE — A scrum broke out along the backboards in the final seconds of Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils and that is when Matthew Tkachuk spotted Nic Hirshier.

In case anyone thought the Panthers forgot the New Jersey captain’s hit to the knee of Sasha Barkov a few days prior, well, Tkachuk made it clear they had not.

With Sam Bennett wrapped up with Damon Severson following Tomas Tatar’s empty-net goal, a few more players jumped into the mix.

Then Tkachuk found Hirshier and started throwing.

The two went at it for a bit until the officials broke it up, Tkachuk saying on Thursday afternoon that he was simply “sticking up for our best player and captain.’’

Hischier, one may recall, was in the faceoff circle against Barkov with 2.2 seconds left in the first period on Saturday night in Newark.

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When the puck was dropped, both players went down to play it but Hischier dropped low and cross-checked Barkov in the knee.

Barkov was slow to the room and has not played since.

“That was a huge draw. I take pride in my draws and obviously I didn’t do it on purpose,’’ Hischier said afterward. “I didn’t even see it until the second period. I definitely hit his knee but it was not something I wanted to do or a dirty play.”

The Panthers are hopeful Barkov will be back next week following the Christmas break but he will not play Friday on Long Island.

“We obviously were not happy with that play and we still don’t have Barkov back,” Tkachuk said. “It is frustrating for us. We know (Hischier) isn’t a dirty player but we did not like that play at all. You really can’t do anything crazy anymore but I thought our team did a good enough job making it clear we were not happy with that.”

In total, four players were kicked out of the game including Tkachuk, Severson, Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart.

The Panthers miss their captain and Tkachuk wanted it to be made clear there would be a price to pay for messing with him.

Hischier was banged around a little bit during Saturday’s game including early in the second and throughout the third when the Panthers built a lead — but it was not until Wednesday night’s contest had been decided when Tkachuk got his.

”We really did not like what he did,” Tkachuk said.

When asked about the scrum, Florida coach Paul Maurice smiled.

”I think the game has changed,” Maurice said. “Because everyone still had their gloves on and still had their teeth at the end. It was a mild get-together.”



  • When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: UBS Arena; Elmont, N.Y.
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 3-0
  • This season (Florida 2-0): Florida 3, Islanders 1 (Oct. 13); Florida 3, Islanders 2 (Oct. 23)
  • All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 56-32-11, 8 ties
  • Next Up for the Panthers: Dec. 29 vs. Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m.

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