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2023 Stanley Cup Final

Tough Night for Matthew Tkachuk In Stanley Cup Final Debut



Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers is in the middle of a scrum with the Vegas Golden Knights during the second period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night. (AP Photo/John Locher)

It was not the finest of hours for Matthew Tkachuk in his first game in the Stanley Cup Final.

The star forward of the Florida Panthers ended the game in the team dressing room after being given a 10-minute misconduct for his role in a melee along the boards.

Tkachuk had been zipping around the ice as he always does, but with 4:24 remaining, he got into it with a number of Vegas players — and ended up punching Nicolas Hague in the face while he was being restrained by Florida defenseman Marc Staal.

Sam Bennett and Chandler Stephenson were also sent to the room.

Tkachuk’s expulsion from the game came a few minutes after Mark Stone knocked down his soft clearing pass from deep in the zone.

Stone knocked it down as he was in the slot and beat Sergei Bobrovsky to make it a 4-2 game with 6:19 remaining.

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“It was tough,” coach Paul Maurice said afterward. “On the gradation of tough, like root canal to lumpy oatmeal, it was closer to the root canal of toughness.”

Maurice did challenge the play as Stone reached up with his stick to pull in the puck from Tkachuk’s flip pass but it was quickly declared a good goal.

“It was 6 on the clock, 4-2 and that’s a tough number,’’ Maurice said when asked if he was just taking a crack at the challenge.

“The right shoulder was under it, the left shoulder might be even with it. I was really impressed with the speed that they came out with a ‘no.’ I think they were excited about getting us into the box one more time. I thought that was fast, the fastest part of our game.”

Tkachuk ended his first Stanley Cup Final game with 2 shots on goal and 2 missed shots.

Saturday night was Tkachuk’s big night in the spotlight as he has been one of the top players of this postseason.

Of Florida’s four wins against the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals, Tkachuk scored the deciding goal in three of them — including the series-clincher with 4.9 seconds remaining in Game 4 in Sunrise.

As long as Tkachuk does not get a suspension for the punch, which he potentially could, he will have plenty of time to be the Panthers’ hero once again.


GAME 2 (Vegas Leads 1-0)
  • When: Monday, 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: Monday at Vegas, 8 (TNT); Game 3: Thursday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 4: Saturday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 5*: Tuesday June 13 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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