Brothers Brady Tkachuk #7 of the Ottawa Senators and Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Florida Panthers stretch at centre ice during warm-up prior to a game at Canadian Tire Centre on March 27, 2023 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Brady Tkachuk always considered older brother Matthew to be one rugged and resilient customer, especially after all the scraps they had growing up during mini-stick games in the basement of their St. Louis home.

But after seeing firsthand what the Florida Panthers forward had to endure just to make it to the rink for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final last June, let alone play, Brady’s respect for his sibling reached new heights.

“I didn’t realize how tough he was,” the Ottawa Senators captain told Kevin Weekes and Mike Rupp during the Players Only segment on NHL Network this week.

Matthew Tkachuk suffered a cracked sternum when he was flattened by a clean check from Vegas Golden Knights forward Keegan Kolesar midway through the first period of Game 3 of the Final at FLA Live Arena. Not only did the 25-year-old play through the excruciating pain for the remainder of the game, he scored the tying goal with 2:13 remaining in regulation, setting the stage for Carter Verhaeghe’s overtime goal in Florida’s 3-2 victory.

Brady said he had no idea how bad the injury was at the time. He quickly found out when he arrived at Matthews’ residence on the day of Game 4 with the Panthers, down 2-1 in the best-of-7 series, looking to tie things up.

Brady Tkachuk joins crew on 'NHL Now'

Matthew tried to have an afternoon nap but couldn’t sleep. So, he called his 24-year-old brother to come up and chat.

At one point, Matthew asked his brother: “Hey, you mind helping me up?”

Indeed, at that point, Matthew could not get out of bed on his own.

“I thought he was joking the whole time,” Brady said. “I said, ‘Good one.’”

He wasn’t.

“Actually, I can’t move right now,” Matthew said. “Can you lift me up?”

Brady did just that, and estimates it took Matthew about 15 minutes to get dressed.

“He said, ‘I’m going to treat this as the last game I’m going to play this season. I’m going to leave it all out there and try to help tie this series,’” Brady recalled.

“Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But for me to see him out there and make plays out there and have an impact and make plays, it just shows, no matter what adversity, he’s always going to find a way.

“I guess when he got to the rink he was on the (trainers’) table from there until warmup. So, he was grinding. And that’s something I look up to.”

Matthew somehow fought through the discomfort to log 16:14 of ice time and fire four shots on goal in the Panthers’ 3-2 loss. True to his word, that would be his final game. He did not dress for Game 5 in Las Vegas, when the Golden Knights won their first Stanley Cup championship with a 9-3 victory.

Matthew has since fully recovered from the injury and has four assists in the Panthers’ first three games. Brady, meanwhile, has five points (four goals, one assist) in three games with the Senators.

The Panthers and Senators will meet for the first time this season on Nov. 27 in Ottawa.