SUNRISE — When Florida Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk took the ice for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night, it was clear he was not himself.
Less than 48 hours removed from his Game 3 heroics, Tkachuk entered Saturday night’s game hampered with an apparent shoulder injury.
He gave the Panthers all he could, logging just under 17 minutes of ice time and taking four shots.
By the time the third period rolled around, it was clear he did not have much to give.
After taking two quick shifts at the start of the third, he sat on the bench until the final five minutes.
The Panthers ended up losing to the Golden Knights 3-2 in Game 4 and now trail the series 3-1.
“Matthew has been a grinder his whole life and he was one again tonight,” Maurice said. “We were just hoping to get into a situation where we could use what he had to give us. We hoped we got on the power play a little bit earlier and certainly at the end of the game.”
Tkachuk logged 3:17 of the final 5:01 of the game, trying all he could to help the Panthers complete a three-goal comeback, but it was not enough.
in the final seconds, Florida had a power play and, with goalie Sergei Bobrovsky pulled, the Panthers came hard at the Golden Knights. Florida made a fast and furious push in the final 15-plus seconds but Vegas was saved by the bell.
”Obviously, you want to be out there playing,” Tkachuk said. ”I was able to go out there at the end and try to make some magic happen but we ran out of time.”
The third period was going to be a challenge for the Panthers already with or without Tkachuk on the ice.
They entered it down 3-1 after Brandon Montour cut into their three-goal deficit late in the second with a shot that pinballed off a pair of Golden Knights defenders and in.
To make matters worse Anthony Duclair also missed the first 8:14 of the third period with an injury of his own.
Florida had a short bench to work with and a tall task ahead.
The Panthers were able to cut into it with a one-time blast from Sasha Barkov 3:50 in but could not find the tying goal no matter how hard they tried.
“Against any team, and in any situation, a 3–0 lead is tough too come back from,” Barkov said.
”We almost did and we finished on a good note. I know we didn’t win but all we can do is think about the next one.”
Tkachuk’s status is in question as the Panthers head into a win-or-go-golf Game 5 in Vegas on Tuesday.
Will Tkachuk play?
”We have two days off to assess that,” Maurice said. “We’ll get some good rest and then we will make that decision.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
THE 2023 STANLEY CUP FINAL
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
GAME 5 (Vegas leads 3-1)
- When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
- Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
- 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: @Florida 3, Vegas 2 (OT); Game 4: Vegas 3, @Florida 2 ; Game 5: Tuesday at Vegas, 8 (TNT); Game 6*: Friday 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.