Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk not in lineup for must-win Game 5

The Hockey Central panel discusses Matthew Tkachuk being ruled out for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, and how the Florida Panthers will adjust in a must-win matchup with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Florida Panthers star forward Matthew Tkachuk will be out of the lineup for Game 5 against the Vegas Golden Knights due to a nagging upper-body injury, according to Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas.

Tkachuk appeared to sustain the injury early in Game 3 following an open-ice hit from Golden Knights’ Keegan Kolesar. He stumbled to his feet before heading to the locker room, but did return to finish the game.

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He played reduced ice time in Game 4 at 16:40, taking the ice for just four shifts during the third period.

Tkachuk, considered a leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy entering this series, avoided questions after the Panthers’ Game 4 loss regarding his injury and status for Tuesday night in Vegas. Panthers head coach Paul Maurice did not provide an update on Tkachuk to reporters after the morning skate Tuesday.

The 25-year-old has been the crux of the Panthers’ offence this post-season, with 11 goals and 24 points in 20 playoff games this year. He was also named one of the three finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player in the NHL.

Grigori Denisenko took warmups ahead of Game 5 for the Panthers and will replace Tkachuk in the lineup. Denisenko, 22, has played a total of 26 games and has yet to score. Tuesday’s Game 5 will be his first career playoff game.

The Golden Knights, up 3-1 in the series, have the opportunity to clinch the Stanley Cup Tuesday. Watch Game 5 at 8 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT on Sportsnet and Sportsnet NOW.

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