Leon Draisaitl Elbows & Knocks Out Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov

The Florida Panthers defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. Even in victory, the win didn’t come without a potentially huge loss.

Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov was injured in the third period by an elbow to his head delivered by Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl and he didn’t return to the game.

Aleksander Barkov took an elbow to the jaw from Leon Draisaitl#TimeToHunt | #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/Y5i1d4PTz9

— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights & News (@HockeyDaily365) June 11, 2024

The hit happened midway through the third period of Game 2, with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation and the Panthers leading 2-1. Draisaitl lept in Barkov’s direction and struck the Panthers player in the jaw with his right forearm.

Barkov fell to the ice and was unable to get up without assistance, eventually needing help to reach the bench before heading to the locker room for further evaluation. He didn’t return.

Panthers coach Paul Maurice addressed the hit in his post-game comments, hoping for the NHL to review the hit and hand Draisaitl a bigger suspension than the initial minor penalty he was handed on the ice.

“This isn’t The Oprah Winfrey Show. My feelings don’t matter.”

Paul Maurice on the hit on Barkov. pic.twitter.com/mLL26ZkYAh

— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 11, 2024

“The League looks at every hit,” Maurice said on June 10 when asked if he thinks the NHL Department of Player Safety should review the hit postgame, via NHL.com. “This isn’t ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ my feelings don’t matter.”

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Maurice could not provide an update on Barkov’s condition after the game, answering that question with “None.”

Paul Maurice Confirms Injury, Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl Defends Himself

Maurice refuted the idea of keeping Barkov out of the final 1′ minutes of play for precautionary reasons.

The coach told reporters that he was forced to keep Barkov off the ice because of the injury, as he would have not done it otherwise given the score at that time, which was still a close 2-1.

“I’m not holding him out,” Maurice said. “There was 9:28 on the clock, I believe, in a 2–1 game.”

The referees initially did not call a penalty but later assessed Draisaitl a two-minute minor for roughing after consulting with the linesmen.

Draisaitl on the Barkov hit: “I don’t think that’s frustration. It was just a hit. I don’t think there’s anything dirty about it. Maybe I got him a little high. Certainly not with intent to injure, though, or anything like that.”

— Daniel Nugent-Bowman (@DNBsports) June 11, 2024

Draisaitl downplayed the incident after the game, saying his hit wasn’t coming from personal frustration, according to The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman.

“I don’t think that’s frustration,” Draisaitl said after Game 2 on June 10. “It was just a hit. I don’t think there’s anything dirty about it. Maybe I got him a little high. Certainly not with intent to injure, though, or anything like that.”

Panthers Win Game 2, Avoid Commenting on Hits

According to Michael Russo of The Athletic, the Panthers players seemed to be following some internal directions not to bite for questions about Draisaitl’s hit on Barkov.

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Russo quoted some of the players’ answers to such questions in his piece, including the following ones.

“You never want to see your captain go down,” Evan Rodrigues said.

“No comment,” Vladimir Tarasenko said.

“It goes so fast, I didn’t really see it, but I hope he’s OK, and I hope he’s feeling better,” Anton Lundell said.

“I didn’t really get a good look at it,” Kyle Okposo said.

“I have no response or comment on that,” Matthew Tkachuk said.

Really ugly leg-on-leg contact between Warren Foegele and Eetu Luostarinen#LetsGoOilers | #TimeToHunt pic.twitter.com/46pc9GxlS1

— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights & News (@HockeyDaily365) June 11, 2024

Panthers players didn’t comment on Warren Foegele‘s leg-on-leg hit on Eetu Luostarinen, either. Foege was ejected following the hit early in the first period.

Luostarinen briefly left the game but returned shortly after. Foegele’s ejection left the Oilers with 11 forwards for the remainder of the game.

The Panthers win on Monday, June 10, brought the series to a 2-0 lead in favor of Florida with Games 3 and 4 taking play in Edmonton. Mattias Ekholm opened the scoring for the Oilers but the Panthers scored four unanswered goals (including an empty netter).

Niko Mikkola, Rodrigues (twice), and Aaron Ekblad scored the come-from-behind goals for Florida. Sergei Bobrovsky saved 18 shots and Oilers’ Stuart Skinner stopped 24 shots.

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