The Flames continue to miss one of their best players: Winger Matthew Tkachuk is out for Game 6 of their playoff series vs. the Stars, per Sportsnet's Ryan Leslie. Interim coach Geoff Ward said earlier Thursday that Tkachuk was "an option for tonight. We'll see what he's like at game time." Leslie tweeted the news just after 9 p.m. ET and Tkachuk was not on the ice for warmups.
Calgary will now look to avoid elimination without Tkachuk; the team trails 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. The Flames assistant captain was also a game-time decision for Games 3, 4 and 5 and did not dress.
Tkachuk has been out since leaving Game 2 with an injury. The winger was hurt in the first period and came back not once, but twice. He left for a final time in the third period. The team has not confirmed a diagnosis, but Sportsnet's panel hinted during an intermission of Sunday's Game 4 that Tkachuk was out with a concussion.
According to the Sportsnet panel, #Flames F Matthew Tkachuk is out with a concussion. IF that's the case, it takes about six days (from date of injury) to work through the protocol... if everything goes smoothly.— Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) August 16, 2020
Tkachuk's problems started when he was lined up with Stars captain Jamie Benn for a faceoff deep in the Flames' zone. The two came together after the puck was dropped, and it appeared Benn speared Tkachuk in either the inner left thigh or groin — or a little higher. Tkachuk limped off the ice and went to the locker room.
The hard-nosed forward missed just one shift, but his return didn't last long and he had to head to the locker room again.
Tkachuk saw just 3:40 of ice time in the opening frame, but he returned for the second period. He never looked fully right after that, despite logging two ticks above six minutes in the middle session.
On his second shift of the third period, with the puck at his feet, he was sandwiched near the far boards by Benn and Jamie Oleksiak.
It's unclear what exactly happened on the play. Tkachuk stumbled and appeared to have issues again with his left leg. He wasn't putting much weight on it as he headed to the bench and then went down the tunnel with assistance. Tkachuk was also wobbly; his head and Oleksiak's appeared to make contact, so there was speculation about a concussion.
"We could have used him," Ward said following Game 2. "He does an awful lot of things for us. He's an emotional leader for us, he's a gamer, he leads our team in a lot of ways. He relishes being in these types of games. He's an extremely intelligent player, he's a key guy on the power play.
"So there's a lot of things that he brings to the table and for him not to be able to finish the hockey game for us, it's a hole. And now we have to go back and evaluate exactly what's going on and see what we need to do."
Tkachuk is his team's heart and soul. It has been difficult for Calgary to compensate for what he brings on a nightly basis. A notorious pest who drew seven penalties in the first five games of the postseason, Tkachuk can also bury the puck when needed. In those same five contests, he had two points (goal, assist) after registering 61 points in Calgary's 69 regular-season games.
"Yeah, Chucky is a warrior," Flames forward Sam Bennett said after Game 2. "He battles hard for us game in and game out. I guess we'll see what's up with him, but he's a tough kid. So, you know, he brings a lot to our team and it's unfortunate that he had to leave there, but he's a tough kid."
"Everything (Bennett) said," Calgary captain Mark Giordano added. "Never like to see a guy not play down the stretch, but hopefully it's something minor and he can get right back with us."
The Flames lost the game in which Tkachuk was hurt. After Calgary won Game 3, the Stars came back to win Game 4 in overtime and Game 5 in regulation.