LAS VEGAS — Matthew Tkachuk's massive hit on Jack Eichel in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final bent but did not break the Vegas Golden Knights.
It could have been a big turning point in the game and in the championship series. Instead, it stood as a moment of resiliency for Eichel and his club.
Here's what went down.
Late in the second period and with his team down 4-0, Tkachuk made his presence felt in a big way, leveling a huge hit on Eichel.
Eichel, the Golden Knights' top center and leading scorer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, went straight to the dressing room and didn't return in the dying minutes of the middle frame.
He did, however, return for the third period and set up a goal on his next shift after the Panthers had cut the lead to 4-1.
The hit wasn't all that controversial in the end, with both sides agreeing it was a clean, hard hit.
"It doesn't matter who you are," Tkachuk said, per NHL.com. "You shouldn't be going through the middle with your head down. You're going to get hit. I mean, I would get hit too if I had my head down in the middle.
"It's nothing. It's not a big deal. He's a really good player, and really good players can get hit too."
Eichel didn't disagree.
"I kind of blame myself a bit," Eichel said. "I lose the puck, and then I'm reaching for it, and I trip, and he's right there. So, I didn't really say anything that it was a dirty hit or anything.
"I'll have to look at it again, but you don't want to put yourself in that position. Unfortunately, he finishes a good hit. But you know, I'm fine now, so we'll just move on."
It certainly didn't look good at first, as Eichel was down on all fours after the hit and appeared to be in some discomfort while skating off. Losing Eichel for any significant length of time would have been a massive blow for Vegas, seeing as he leads the team with six goals and 16 assists in 19 playoff games (and his first taste of the postseason).
Luckily, Eichel was ok, and helped stave off any semblance of a comeback with that assist early in the third period.
Vegas, by the way, is now up 2-0 in their series with the Panthers.