Maurice, speaking after the Panthers were eliminated in Game 5 on Tuesday night, said Tkachuk needed help getting dressed for Game 4 but still powered through and played in the home loss. He did not play in Game 5.
Earlier in the day, Florida coach Paul Maurice told reporters he had decided whether Tkachuk would play but didn’t want to share his decision. Maurice said Tkachuk’s status would be revealed right before puck drop.
Tkachuk, in his first season with the club, led the Panthers in goals (11) and points (24) and was easily their most valuable forward in the playoffs, with four game-winning goals — three in overtime.
Tkachuk was limited to just 16 minutes, 40 seconds of ice time in the Panthers’ Game 4 loss. Although he managed four shots on goal, he was clearly laboring with what appeared to be an upper-body injury. He skated only four shifts during the third period.
Though he was cleared from concussion protocol stemming from a Game 3 hit from Vegas forward Keegan Kolesar, there may be lingering effects elsewhere because of his hard fall to the ice after that hit.
Maurice also noted that defenseman Aaron Ekblad played three rounds of the postseason with a broken foot, and that fellow defenseman Radko Gudas, a pending unrestricted free agent, played an unspecified amount of the postseason with a high ankle sprain.
Whether he played in Game 5 or not, Tkachuk’s effort and enthusiasm throughout the postseason was not lost on Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov.
“He’s a top player in this league,” he said. “He’s a huge player for our team.”
Barkov and Tkachuk, both All-Stars this season, will be the cornerstones of the franchise moving forward.
“He’ll be fine,” Maurice said of Tkachuk.