SAD NEWS: Paul Maurice Confirm Big Setback as the Panthers May Be Without Key Player in the Cup Final…

The Florida Panthers hold a 2-0 lead over the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final, but uncertainty looms as captain Sasha Barkov’s availability is in question.

Barkov exited the game with a possible jaw injury after being struck by a flying elbow from Edmonton star Leon Draisaitl during the third period. Despite the severity of the hit, which appeared to target Barkov’s head, Draisaitl received only a 2-minute minor for roughing.

Evan Rodrigues capitalized on the power play that followed, scoring his second goal to help secure Florida’s 4-1 victory.

Game 3 is set for Thursday in Edmonton, and it remains unclear whether Barkov or Draisaitl will play.

Head coach Paul Maurice, known for his humor in post-game conferences, was notably somber. “The league will take a look at it. They look at every hit,” he stated, offering no update on Barkov’s condition but implying that Barkov was either undergoing concussion protocol or was too injured to continue.

The Panthers had a 3-1 lead before Aaron Ekblad’s empty-net goal sealed the win with 2:28 remaining. Maurice clarified, “There was 9:28 left on the clock in a 2-1 game. I was not holding him out.”

When asked about the hit, Maurice responded, “This isn’t the Oprah Winfrey Show. My feelings don’t matter.”

Teammate Anton Lundell, who contributed two assists including on Rodrigues’ second goal, expressed the team’s concern: “He’s our captain. We never want to miss him, but we hope it’s going to be OK. We love him and hope he’s coming back even stronger.”

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