Why Panthers coach said ‘This isn’t the Oprah Winfrey show’ after Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers
Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Maurice wasn’t amused after his Florida Panthers extended their Stanley Cup Final series lead against the Edmonton Oilers to 2-0 on Monday night. The 4-1 victory may have come at a big cost.

Aleksander Barkov exited the game midway through the third period after receiving a flying elbow to the jaw from Oilers star Leon Draisaitl.

“This isn’t the Oprah Winfrey show. My feelings don’t matter,” an irritated Maurice replied when asked how he felt about the play.

Draisaitl received a two-minute minor for roughing despite jumping off the ice to hit the Panthers captain in the jaw.

The incident occurred with 10:32 remaining in the third period when Barkov attempted to clear a rolling puck along the half boards from the Panthers zone.

The Panthers captain didn’t look up in time to see the 209-pound Draisaitl barreling toward him, leading with his elbow.

Draisaitl leaped from the ice and made full contact with Barkov’s face, causing the center to crumble to the ice in pain. He tried to get up after the hit but fell to the ice again, increasing the cause for concern. 

“I think he went in there to hit. His hands got up a little bit high. He was trying to knock him off the puck, and that led to the penalty,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said in defense of Draisaitl.

The Panthers medical staff subsequently assisted Barkov off the ice and down the tunnel.

Holding a 2-1 lead late in the game, Florida made sure to exact revenge on the power play.

With just six second remaining on the man advantage with Draisaitl in the penalty box, Anton Lundell entered the zone and danced around Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard before directing a net-front pass to Evan Rodrigues, who deflected it up and over goalie Stuart Skinner for his second goal of the game.

Aaron Ekblad would secure the win in the dwindling seconds of the game with an empty net goal to make it a 4-1 win for the Panthers after opening the best-of-7 series with a 3-0 victory in Game 1 on Saturday.

Related: 2024 Stanley Cup Final: Winners and losers for Game 2 between Panthers and Oilers

Barkov injury could be big blow to Panthers

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers
Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Losing their best all-around player could be a devastating blow for the Panthers. He’s their leader, top-line center, Selke Trophy winner as the top defensive forward in the NHL and absolute horse to play against.

Simply, Barkov is an essential part of Florida’s operation because he touches every part of its game.

His elite passing skills and underrated speed allowed his linemates Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe to be the leading goal scorers on the team during the regular season and postseason.

That’s why he’s on the first power-play unit.

Barkov also utilizes all 205 pounds of his strength and size even when he doesn’t have the puck. He chews up the center of the ice, limits the production of star players (like Oilers captain Connor McDavid), and backs opponents into uncomfortable and low-danger areas. 

That’s why the two-time Selke winner is on the first penalty-killing unit.

He also has an incredible read of the game. Barkov attacks the ice for his entire shift, elevating his teammates with unrelenting speed, power, and effort.

That’s why he holds the captaincy.

The update Tuesday appeared to be hopeful, though.

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

Oilers defense marred by injury, game misconduct

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

Game 2 was brutal on all fronts for the Oilers.

Oilers forward Warren Foegele was issued a game misconduct halfway through the first period after kneeing Panthers winger Eetu Luostarinen in open ice.

The penalty resulted in a five-minute power play that Florida threw away after Oliver Ekman-Larson was handed a tripping call, leading to Edmonton’s lone goal, a five-hole bleeder courtesy of Mattias Ekholm.

The defensive woes didn’t end there for the Oilers, as Darnell Nurse couldn’t shake off a big hit from Rodrigues along the boards in the middle of the first period.

Nurse exited the bench, attempted to play the second period, and then returned to the locker room after a 28-second shift. 

He stayed on the bench throughout the rest of the game, totaling just 4 minutes and 20 seconds on the ice.

There was no update on Nurse’s health Tuesday. Nor was there any update on Barkov.

Game 3 is set for Thursday night in Edmonton.

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