Eichel: Tkachuk hit that forced brief exit in Game 2 win was 'clean'
Vegas Golden Knights star Jack Eichel had no qualms with the hit from Florida Panthers pest Matthew Tkachuk that briefly knocked him out of Game 2 on Monday night.
"I kind of toe-picked a little bit, I saw him at the last minute," he said after Vegas won the contest 7-2 to take a 2-0 series lead, per Sportsnet. "He finishes what I saw was a clean check on me. It's a physical game, you're gonna get hit sometimes. Just kinda move on, you know?
Though Eichel was able to return to the bench for the third period, his status was initially in question after Tkachuk leveled him in the dying minutes of the middle frame.
He appeared to be falling down in the lead-up to the hit. Eichel went down the tunnel immediately afterward.
Eichel appeared to be no worse for wear, though. In his first shift back from the collision, Eichel set up Jonathan Marchessault to restore the Golden Knights' four-goal lead, doing so less than two minutes after Anton Lundell got the Panthers on the board.
Golden Knights captain Mark Stone was pleased to see Eichel return so quickly.
"It was a big hit, I think they were trying to change the momentum," he said. "Just to see him come back and skate out of the tunnel for the third period, that's a statement, right?
"You can take shots at him, you can take shots at any one of us, we're just gonna keep coming at you."
Tkachuk received a 10-minute misconduct, as well as two minutes for roughing Vegas forward Ivan Barbashev in the aftermath of the hit.
The talented agitator said he had "no idea" why he earned that misconduct.
"It doesn't matter who you are, you shouldn't be going through the middle (of the ice) with your head down - you're gonna get hit," Tkachuk said. "I would get hit if I had my head down in the middle, it's not a big deal. ... I just went to the bench thinking, 'Get some rest before the power play.' But I was sent off."
Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Panthers blue-liner Gustav Forsling were given minors for roughing as well, while Barbashev was handed a 10-minute misconduct.
Tkachuk was assessed his second 10-minute misconduct of the game - and third of the series - late in the third period. His 36 combined penalty minutes in the series so far are the most in NHL history through the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final, according to Sportsnet Stats.
Eichel leads Vegas with 22 points in 19 games this spring.
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