Panthers' Radko Gudas expected back for Game 3 after being crushed in Game 2

The Florida Panthers expect to have heavy-hitting defenseman Radko Gudas back for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night, less than 72 hours after he left a game following a crushing check.

Gudas didn't take part in Wednesday's practice, but coach Paul Maurice gave an update afterward as the Panthers prepare to try to cut into the Vegas Golden Knights' 2-0 series lead during their first home of the series.

"We expect the lineup to be the same options. Radko, we expect to play," Maurice told reporters on Wednesday, adding that injured forward Eetu Luostarinen will miss a third consecutive game.

Maurice also confirmed goalie Sergei Bobrovksy, as expected, would start Game 3. Bobrovsky, who had starred in the first three rounds of the playoffs, was pulled in Game 2 after giving up four goals on 13 shots.

Gudas, who's 6-foot and 208 pounds, was lining up Vegas' Ivan Barbashev for a hit about seven minutes into Monday night's 7-2 Golden Knights victory, but the 6-1, 195 forward did a reverse hit, sending the defenseman flying.

Gudas hit his head on the ice and immediately went to the dressing room after getting up and didn't return.

He leads the playoffs with 81 hits and was second in the league during the regular season with 312 hits.

Florida had dressed seven defensemen for Game 2, so they still had three defensive pairs after Gudas departed, but they were missing one of their key players for much of the game.

"He makes the highlight films because he’s such a physical guy, but the quality of his play is very, very high, so you miss a guy like that when he goes out,” Maurice said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Panthers' Radko Gudas expect back in Game 3 after Ivan Barbashev check