Why Oilers forward was ejected from Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final vs. Panthers

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Already trailing 1-0 in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final, the Edmonton Oilers faced a massive moment of truth midway through the first period of Game 2 against then Florida Panthers when Warren Foegele was ejected by the on-ice officials.

The 28-year-old forward was assessed a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for kneeing Panthers forward Eetu Luostarinen at 9:21 of the first period.

Foegele’s left knee dragged into Luostarinen’s left thigh sending the Panthers forward sprawling to the ice in pain. The on-ice call that Foegele deliberately stuck out his knee to make contact was upheld by video review and his night was done before it ever really got started.

“It’s a tough call for the referees. It’s a tough one,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said in a bench interview with ABC.

Luostarinen was helped off the ice to the locker room but did return later in the first period.

Handed a five-minute power play, the Panthers imploded. Oliver Ekman-Larsson took a tripping minor at 10:58 and the Oilers scored a 4-on-4 goal 19 seconds later to take go up 1-0, their first lead of the series. Mattias Ekholm scored off a 3-on-2 rush when his left-wing shot leaked through Sergei Bobrovky’s 5-hole.

It was the first goal allowed in the series by Bobrovsky, who backstopped a 3-0 shutout in the opener.

When Ekman-Larsson returned, Florida’s power play resumed. But that was to no avail as Edmonton’s top-rated penalty kill came through again.

However, the Panthers settled down, tied the game on Niko Mikkola’s stunning second-period goal, and then scored three times in the third period for a 4-1 win and a 2-0 series lead.

Related: 2024 Stanley Cup Final: Schedule, results, TV info for Panthers-Oilers series

Oilers, Panthers each lose 2 players in first period of Stanley Cup Final Game 2

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers not only lost Foegele after he received the game misconduct, but defenseman Darnell Nurse didn’t play the final 11 minutes of the first period with an unspecified injury. Nurse left the bench and came back out at the start of the second period to skate with his teammates but retreated back to the locker room. He was back on the Oilers bench three minutes into the second period.

Nurse finished the night playing seven shifts for 4:20 in ice time.

Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad went down in pain after battling along the boards with Connor McDavid late in the first period. Ekblad limped back to the dressing room, but returned to start the second period. He scored his first postseason goal into the empty-net in the third period to ice Florida’s victory.

Foegele could face a suspension for his kneeing major. He has one goal and two assists in 17 postseason games, and had only eight penalty minutes entering Game 2.

Luostarinen had seven points (two goals, five assists) in 18 playoff games entering play Monday.

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