The Florida Panthers weren’t happy with how things developed in Game 3. Although they tied the game late, forcing an OT, which they won, cutting their series deficit to 2-1, they didn’t think things were handled correctly during the intense game.
The Panthers came to Game 3 with two straight losses in Las Vegas and got off to the worst possible start. Matthew Tkachuk has been the perhaps single-handedly most important player in this year’s playoff.
But he was forced to leave Game 1 after a breathtaking open-ice hit from Keegan Kolesar.
Tkachuk played not long after the hit but was later taken down the tunnel, and he didn’t return for the remainder of the first period. Tkachuk was absent at the beginning of the second period as well, but when he returned, he showed just how important he is to the team.
He tied the game and provided the screen on Carter Verhaeghe’s OT winner.
Matthew Tkachuk was able to return to the game after clearing concussion protocol in the locker room, and for the Panthers players, there wasn’t any doubt that he would return.
”He’s going to come back no matter what,” captain Aleksander Barkov said. ”He’s a really tough guy, and he’s going to battle through everything.”
But the Panthers weren’t thrilled with what went down. Head coach Paul Maurice slammed the NHL for how Tkachuk was taken out of the game, and the bench was left in the dark about how things were going for their perhaps biggest star.
”You’re not informed at all: It’s a complete shutdown,” coach Paul Maurice said.
”You are completely in the dark on those. You don’t know when the player’s coming back. There’s not an update.”
Matty Tkachuk was thrilled with the win afterward and didn’t really care about what happened when he was hit, and he claimed that he was perfectly fine.
”I felt great — I feel great,” Tkachuk said. ”I’m ready to go. Everybody’s excited that we’re in this position right now.”