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2023 Stanley Cup Final

When Radko Gudas Got Hurt, Things Went South for the Florida Panthers

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Radko Gudas leads the Florida Panthers in the postgame handshake line after they beat the host Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on May 12. (Photo by Gavin Napier/Icon Sportswire)

LAS VEGAS — The Florida Panthers had to play without Radko Gudas for the large majority of their 7-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final after he took a high hit from Ivan Barbashev.

Not long after he left the game happened to be the when things started to go wrong for the Panthers.

In the same sequence as the hit which sent Gudas head-first into the ice, Ryan Lomberg took a cross-checking penalty which set up Vegas’ opening power-play goal.

What followed was 50 minutes of sloppy defensive zone play which led to a blowout victory for the Vegas Golden Knights.

”It’s was definitely tough losing him. He has been such a warrior for us,” Matthew Tkachuk said.

”He does all of the little things that nobody else sees and he brings the physicality. He is the leader back there with the way he plays that style.

”He is such an important player and it was not ideal for us to see him go down early.”

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Florida coach Paul Maurice said on Tuesday morning that he does not have an update on Gudas’ status for Game 3 which will be at FLA Live Arena on Thursday night.

Gudas will be evaluated in South Florida.

“He is really important,” Maurice said. ”He is a force but he is also a much better hockey player. He makes the highlight films because he is a physical guy but the quality of his play is also very, very high so you miss a guy like that when he goes out.”

Florida has also been without Eetu Luostarinen since he left Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final with a leg injury.

Luostarinen is listed as day-to-day, per Maurice.

The Panthers dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen knowing that Gudas was already hurting from Game 1 — he left that game in the first period with a lower-body concern but did return — and it was the right move after what happened with Barbashev in the first.

”Because we went 11 and seven, we would have more flexibility to try some things,” Maurice said.

”When it got away from us, I rolled a lot of different lines. I was not necessarily looking for something but we had run very consistent lines through the Carolina series but with Eetu out, sometimes the dynamic changes.”

With Gudas and Luostarinen’s status both up in the air, the Panthers will have more changes to think about heading into Game 3 in Sunrise.

Florida, due to having so many players up from AHL Charlotte, due have some defensive options if Gudas is ruled out.

Fitzgerald played in his second playoff game on Monday as the seventh defenseman and took Gudas’ spot with Josh Mahura on the third pairing, playing 10:41 before being part of the mass ejections which took place in the final minutes of the game.

Florida could also sub in Lucas Carlsson or Matt Kiersted, two players who know the system.

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

THE 2023 STANLEY CUP FINAL
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS 
GAME 3 (Vegas leads 2-0)
  • When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
  • 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: Thursday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 4: Saturday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 5*:Tuesday 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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