Radko Gudas injured in first period of Panthers' Game 2 loss

LAS VEGAS -- Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas left Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final and did not return.

Although the Panthers did not disclose the injury when announcing his departure during the second period, Gudas was on the other end of a hit from Vegas Golden Knights forward Ivan Barbashev with 13:23 left in the first period of the Panthers' 7-2 loss.

Barbashev was trying to gain control of the puck when Gudas was closing in before Barbashev delivered the hit.

Replays showed that Barbashev's right shoulder connected with Gudas' face and the back of Gudas' helmet hit the ice as he fell. Gudas skated back to the Panthers bench under his own power but immediately went to the team's dressing room.

Gudas' exit came shortly before Jonathan Marchessault scored a power-play goal to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead. Marchessault's goal was the first of four unanswered Vegas scored to take a 4-0 lead with more than 13 minutes remaining in the second.

Gudas' absence was felt but hardly was the reason Florida lost. Panthers coach Paul Maurice elected to play seven defensemen and 11 forwards for Game 2. So, even with Gudas' exit, the Panthers had a full three pairs of blueliners the rest of the way.

That said, Marchessault scored two goals, pushing his playoff total to 12, as Vegas cruised to a 2-0 lead, having now outscored the Panthers 12-4 in the series.

Gudas adds to a growing list of injury concerns for the Panthers. Forward Eetu Luostarinen has missed both games of the Final after sustaining an injury in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Maurice did not have an update on Gudas in his postgame media availability.

"Well, he's really important, he's a force, but he's also a much better hockey player," Maurice said. "He makes the highlight films because he's such a physical guy. But the quality of his play is very, very high. You miss a guy like that when he goes out."

Game 3 is Thursday in Sunrise, Florida.