HomeSportsNHLStanley Cup goes to Vegas, Panthers lose 9-3

Stanley Cup goes to Vegas, Panthers lose 9-3

LAS VEGAS — Aaron Ekblad controlled his emotions the best he could after the Florida Panthers were eliminated by the Vegas Golden Knights in a 9-3 loss Tuesday night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

As the Knights celebrated their first championship, Ekblad and the Panthers remained somber after a remarkable and improbable run through the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed.

“It’s a tough feeling right now and you can’t sum it up in one game,” Ekblad said, fighting back tears. “Thought we came out, played hard tonight, so you can look back on that as a positive. The things you go through to get to this point, you couldn’t imagine.”

Like overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the opening round against the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins, and opening the next three rounds with two road games, in Toronto, Carolina and Las Vegas.

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“What a team, right?” Ekblad said. “It’s not easy to do that. Some of the best teams in regular season history, so there’s a lot of positives to look at.”

The Panthers also dealt with numerous injuries, most notably points leader Matthew Tkachuk.

“I’m not sure — it’s his collarbone, sternum, clavicle, SI joint is I think the words I heard,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said.

Maurice confirmed Tkachuk suffered the fracture after being hit by Golden Knights forward Keegan Kolesar in Game 3, and went on to say he needed assistance dressing for Game 4 with someone helping him put his gear and jersey on while also needing someone to tie his skates.

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“That was a bit of a problem,” Maurice said. “He’s, I don’t know, one of four guys with broken bones.”

Nevertheless, Ekblad, said the Panthers came together to form a bond only they’ll be able to appreciate considering the obstacles they overcame.

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