In a shocking turn of events during Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, Vegas Golden Knights forward Ivan Barbashev delivered a massive reverse hit on Florida Panthers defenceman Radko Gudas. The forceful hit sent Gudas out of the game early in the first period, marking a crucial moment in the unfolding final series.

Gudas, known for his physicality, was ranked second in the NHL with 312 hits for the season, trailing only Luke Schenn with his 318 hits. Meanwhile, Barbashev tied for 45th with Vincent Trocheck, marking 182 hits. This impressive hit tally adds context to the surprise of Barbashev’s hit, which was a startling moment for both teams and spectators alike.

Interestingly, Gudas had been nursing an injury prior to the game, and there were already concerns about his ability to play a full shift. Despite not being listed on an injury report before the game, the Panthers had dressed seven defensive players ahead of Game 2, anticipating that Gudas might struggle. However, no one expected him to be sent to the locker room just under seven minutes into the game.

This incident might be considered karma for Gudas, given his recent unsporting behaviour in the NHL playoffs. The Panthers’ defenceman, not shy of controversy, had previously screamed in the face of Toronto Maple Leafs’ rookie goalie Joseph Woll after Florida eliminated Toronto in Round 2 of the NHL Playoffs. The display of poor sportsmanship from Gudas was widely criticized, drawing attention away from his notable performance on the ice.

Despite being able to leave the ice under his own power after Barbashev’s hit, Gudas was not able to return to the game due to his injury. The Panthers announced early in the second period that Gudas would not return, leaving a gap in their defensive line-up that is likely to be filled by Casey Fitzgerald, the seventh defensive player dressed for the game.

The status of Gudas’s injury remains uncertain, with no updates available from the Panthers’ head coach Paul Maurice after Game 2, and none the following morning. The potential loss of Gudas for an extended period due to the hit could be a significant blow for the Panthers, potentially affecting the dynamics of the Stanley Cup Final. Stay tuned for updates on Gudas’s condition and the unfolding series.