Matthew Tkachuk Breaks Silence on Wild Game 4 Moment vs. Rangers

Matthew Tkachuk

Getty Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers and New York Rangers required overtime for a third straight playoff contest on May 28, but the play of the game may have occurred after the whistle when Rangers winger Chris Kreider tossed Florida winger Matthew Tkachuk’s mouthguard toward the crowd at Amerant Bank Arena.

Speaking to the media the following day, Tkachuk was all smiles when addressing the incident. The 26-year-old winger famously chomps on his mouthguard during games rather than using it for its intended purpose – so much so that the Panthers released a bobblehead of him earlier this year that featured a mouthguard hanging out of the left side of his mouth – but he could not recall another time when an opponent attempted to throw his mouthguard into the stands.

“I told [Kreider] it was the best play he made all game,” he quipped.

The incident occurred at a stoppage of play at 19:12 of the third period in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, when Kreider and Tkachuk engaged in a verbal sparring match and had to be separated by officials. As Kreider skated away, he tossed Tkachuk’s mouthguard – which he appeared to yank out of Tkachuk’s mouth during the altercation – in the direction of the crowd.

Tkachuk explained that the mouthguard Kreider tossed was his only one for the series and that he was fortunate enough to get it back so he could wash it off and continue using it for the rest of the game.

Kreider May Have Narrowly Avoided Suspension After Mouthguard Toss

Despite some initial reports that Kreider had tossed Tkachuk’s mouthguard all the way into the stands, it did not end up clearing the glass and instead landed on the ice.

“I know it’s a hilarious story but it’s not true,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said on “32 Thoughts: The Podcast” on May 29. “Kreider did not throw Tkachuk’s mouthguard into the crowd. It went straight up and it landed on the ground. He may have been trying to do it but he failed in his attempt.”

In fact, had Kreider been successful in his attempt, he could have faced serious consequences. Friedman’s cohost Jeff Marek pointed out that tossing a mouthguard over the glass would be a violation of Rule 53.5 of the NHL Official Rules, which states, “A game misconduct penalty shall be imposed on a player who intentionally throws his stick or any part thereof or any object or piece of equipment outside the playing area.”

“If he was trying to do it, he’s lucky he didn’t do it,” Marek said. “He saved himself a game misconduct on that one.”

Panthers, Rangers Look to Break Series Tie as Eastern Conference Final Heads Back to New York

Florida and New York required overtime for the third consecutive contest, but the Panthers ultimately prevailed with a 3-2 victory in Game 4 to pull even with the Rangers.

With the series tied at 2-2, the teams will head back to New York for Game 5 on May 30. According to NHL PR, when a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs round is tied 2-2, the team that wins Game 5 goes on to win the series nearly 80% of the time (231-62; .788), including a 50-15 (.769) record during the round before the Stanley Cup Final.

Tkachuk leads the Panthers with 19 points through 15 playoff games, and he has recorded a goal and four assists through four games against the Rangers. Kreider, meanwhile, has been held without a point so far in the Eastern Conference Final.

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