Panthers' Tkachuk fractured his sternum in Game 3, Maurice says

Paul Maurice makes 'no excuses' despite Panthers' injury woes (1:23)

Panthers coach Paul Maurice reveals how the Panthers battled through injuries during their Stanley Cup Final run. (1:23)

LAS VEGAS -- Florida coach Paul Maurice said Panthers star forward Matthew Tkachuk fractured his sternum in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Maurice, speaking after the Panthers were eliminated by the Golden Knights in Game 5 on Tuesday night, said Tkachuk needed help getting dressed for Game 4 but still powered through and played in the home loss. He did not play in Game 5.

"He'll heal fine from it," Maurice said of Tkachuk's injury. "He got into the next game because he is so smart and can find a way around the ice. I think he had three of our best chances in that game when he couldn't do things he could do to finish. ... The next day [after Game 4] when he came in, he was in significant pain. So, there wasn't really a question of whether he would be able to play or not. The idea was if we let it calm, maybe we could get him to Game 7."

Forward Grigori Denisenko took the place of Tkachuk, Florida's leading scorer in the postseason, and the Eastern Conference champions looked out of sorts most of the night in a 9-3 loss.

Earlier in the day, Maurice told reporters he had decided whether Tkachuk would play but didn't want to share his decision. Maurice said Tkachuk's status would be revealed right before puck drop.

Tkachuk, in his first season with the club, led the Panthers in goals (11) and points (24) and was easily their most valuable forward in the playoffs, with four game-winning goals, including three in overtime.

Tkachuk was limited to just 16 minutes, 40 seconds of ice time in the Panthers' Game 4 loss. Although he managed four shots on goal, he was clearly laboring with what appeared to be an upper-body injury. He skated only four shifts during the third period.

Though Tkachuk was cleared from concussion protocol stemming from a Game 3 hit from Vegas forward Keegan Kolesar, there turned out to be lingering effects elsewhere because of his hard fall to the ice after that hit.

Maurice on Tuesday night noted that Aaron Ekblad played three rounds of the postseason with a broken foot and that he also popped his shoulder out twice, passed a concussion test and tore his oblique.

Ekblad scored a goal and still logged more than 21 minutes in Game 5.

"It's not an excuse ... These guys gave everything that they had," Maurice said.

The coach added that defenseman Radko Gudas, a pending unrestricted free agent, played an unspecified amount of the postseason with a high ankle sprain that typically keeps a player out of the lineup for six weeks.

"Everybody's got injuries," Maurice said. "I've never seen guys play with what these guys have played with on a sheer number of them. You need luck, for sure. We didn't necessarily need puck luck. I think if you get to the Final, both teams have their fair shares of bounces. But we ran out of the health luck we need if we're going to swing around with 110-point teams. You need your bodies."

Whether he played in Game 5 or not, Tkachuk's effort and enthusiasm throughout the postseason was not lost on Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov.

"He's a top player in this league," Barkov said. "He's a huge player for our team."

ESPN's Ryan Clark contributed to this report.