Panthers coach Paul Maurice also confirmed Wednesday that goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will be his starter for Thursday’s Game 3 after he was pulled in Game 2.
The Panthers trail the Golden Knights 2-0 in the Final.
Gudas was injured on a hit by Golden Knights forward Ivan Barbashev with 13:23 left in the first period Monday night. The rugged Panthers defenseman left the game and did not return. Gudas has three assists in 18 games for Florida while playing 17:02 per game, but his physicality has been a difference maker on the back end.
“He’s a huge, huge part of our team. We really hoped he was going to play,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said.
Bobrovsky was pulled after 27:10 in Game 2 after giving up four goals on 13 shots. One of the most dominant goalies of the postseason, Bobrovsky has given up eight goals on 46 shots in two games against the Golden Knights.
Goalie Alex Lyon, who began the postseason as Florida’s starter before Bobrovsky replaced him in Game 3 of the first round against Boston, gave up three goals on 15 shots after taking over from Bobrovsky in Game 2.
Lyon said Wednesday that he held out hope he could have gotten the Game 3 call with the game back in Florida.
“It’s a tough decision,” Lyon said. “I try to look at it from a coach’s perspective as much as I can, because I don’t want to be let down and get my hopes up and then be storming around the locker room.
“You always think about that. I mean, I think it’s my job to be a competitor. It’s my job to compete. We have a great relationship, but I want to take his job. I want to be in his status. Obviously, I’m realistic in that situation, but I just think it’s my job to do that. And I think that he would say the same thing back to me.”
Maurice bristled at the notion that Bobrovsky’s status could even be questioned.
“I think you guys have too much time on your hands,” Maurice told reporters Wednesday. “Maybe there’s just too many of you. Do you guys get together and divide up the question pie?”
“It’s rude, by the way, your question, because he was outstanding in Game 1 and he was as good as our team was in Game 2. Forty-eight hours before that, you’ve got [Matthew] Tkachuk and Bobrovsky and how are they going to divide the Conn Smythe [Trophy]. I’m not mocking your question, I understand it. But it seems to me things have gotten slightly more extreme. He was a pretty good goalie in Game 1.”
Panthers’ Radko Gudas expected to play Game 3; Sergei Bobrovsky to start