Florida Panthers had to win Game 5 to keep their chances of the Stanley Cup alive. But before puck drop, they suffered a huge blow, as news came about Matthew Tkachuk missing the crucial game.
Tkachuk has been one of the best—and perhaps the most important—players of this year’s playoff, but when it was revealed why Tkachuk had to sit the game out, no one blamed him.
Tkachuk is a warrior, but not even he could push through the pain to play Game 5. Instead, Florida hoped the rest would make him healthy enough to eventually play in a Game 7, but it won’t come to that. Vegas won Game 5, 9-3, and their first-ever Stanley Cup. After the loss, Panthers coach Paul Maurice revealed that Tkachuk suffered a fractured sternum.
It was caused by a huge hit by Vegas’ Keegan Kolesar in Game 3, but he still returned to that game. In typical Matty Tkachuk fashion, he dressed up for Game 4, despite all the pain he went through. But in fact, Tkachuk didn’t dress up by himself. He got help to do it.
”Somebody helped him get his gear on. Somebody tied his skates. Somebody put his sweater on him,” Maurice said. ”But the next day, when he came in, he was in significant pain.”
Maurice can’t praise Tkachuk enough for how he pushed through the pain in Games 3 and 4.
”He fractured that and came back and scored the game-tying goal, net-front, and then you could see him in the next game trying to find a way to play with a broken bone, and I think he had the three of the four best chances we had to score,” Maurice said.
According to other reports, Tkachuk had to be helped out of bed after pregame nap for Game 4 by his brother Brady. That Matthew still managed to log over 16 minutes says it all about him.
Paul Maurice did not express any worries about the fractured sternum not healing properly. However, he said that some guys in the Panthers lineup would need four to six months to heal.