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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Tkachuk on Pastrnak Fight: ‘I Wanted In on the Action’

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Matthew Tkachuk and David Pastrnak come to blows at center ice on Wednesday night in Sunrise. // ESPN

FORT LAUDERDALE — A day after Matthew Tkachuk and David Pastrnak got into a fight the hockey world is still talking about, the Florida Panthers star said it all went down because he sort of felt left out.

Once the Panthers took control of Game 2 against the Bruins by taking a 5-1 lead midway through the third, brawls broke out all over the ice.

The biggest one, however, came with 7:18 remaining.

Tkachuk could be seen asking the Boston star if he wanted to throw down; Pastrnak, to his credit, agreed.

It did take a little cajoling, Tkachuk said Thursday.

“Their bottom-6 guys were doing what they were doing which we really didn’t like on our side,’’ said Tkachuk, a cut on his right middle knuckle a souvenir from the tussle in plain view.

“They started there and, I guess, I wanted in on the action. I just asked him to fight. He said we would do it next game. I’m like, ‘we should just do it right now.’ He said he would come out next shift.

“Give him tons of respect. It was two guys not known for fighting, two players known more for the offensive side of the game. I have tons of respect for him. We were both up for the Hart last year and just to see us out there battling at center ice in a playoff game is pretty good.

“It’s good for hockey. Both emotional guys who are leaders for our teams. We were just showing we would do anything for our teams to win. We weren’t going out there to play pattycakes or anything. We wanted to have some fun with the fight and try to land some punches, I guess. Tons of respect for him wanted to do it.’’

Behind Enemy Lines: Bruins Coverage at Boston Hockey Now

Pastrnak spoke following Florida 6-1 win which tied the series at 1.

“I’m not afraid of him, to be honest,’’ Pastrnak said. “I can take a punch, and I’d do anything for these guys here.’’

According to HockeyFights.com, it was just the second fight of Pastrnak’s career — and first since 2018.

It was No. 25 for Tkachuk and sixth since joining the Panthers.

Boston, obviously, does not like seeing their top player get into a scrap during the playoffs but answering the call of Tkachuk certainly earned him kudos.

Pastrnak was mixed up with Sam Reinhart during the fracas that broke out after Brandon Montour scored to make it 6-1. While Montour was going at it with Brad Marchand, Pastrnak was grappling with Reinhart before getting physical with Niko Mikkola.

Tkachuk’s invitation to dance came soon afterward.

“I’m proud of Pasta,’’ Boston coach Jim Montgomery said. “Tkachuk and Pasta, they just went out there and fought. That’s what you like. You like your hockey players to be competitors.”

Florida coach Paul Maurice mentioned in his postgame Wednesday that the video of those two brawling on the ice would be seen on a loop — and Tkachuk could not avoid seeing it time and again.

“I was watching the late game last night, and they showed it a few times,’’ Tkachuk said. “There are TVs everywhere in the locker room here, so I see it every once in a while in passing.’’

His father Keith, credited with 55 fights over the course of his fantastic career, was pictured on the ESPN broadcast clapping after the fight was done.

“I don’t fight a lot,” Matthew said. “My brother [Brady] and dad say I’m not very good at it. During that moment, you have no idea what you are even doing. You just sort of black out, throw as many punches as you can.”

Now, the Panthers are going back to Boston where Tkachuk was a key force in Florida’s upset win in the opening round last year.

Tkachuk, like Jimmy Butler of the Heat, is not well liked in Boston.

For the same reasons, basically.

Tkachuk digs it.

”It will be good. Friday night in Boston, the playoffs. There will be a lot of energy in the rink,’’ Tkachuk said. “You’ll have two teams that are very familiar with each other, two teams that really want to win. This is a really good series right now, and I am sure it’s going to be a great game.”

And the Boston hate?

“We saw it last year,’’ he said. “They were not too happy with us going back in Game 5 and especially in Game 7 last year. We’re used to the hatred as the road team, especially now with a little rivalry that has been created here. We go and just play. That’s what makes us good. We don’t care where we play, who we play, we just play and have fun doing it. Hopefully the crowd fires us up. We know they’ll be jacked to play at home. It’s up to us to play well and come home with a win.’’

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
FLORIDA PANTHERS (ATL1) V. BOSTON BRUINS (ATL2)
BEST-OF-7 SERIES TIED 1-1
GAME 3 

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