The Florida Panthers are making a run at their first postseason appearance in four years, but the Atlantic Division’s third-place team had a small injury scare to perhaps their most important player during Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Team captain Aleksander Barkov left the game midway through the second period after a hit by Canadiens captain Shea Weber sent him to the ice in Florida’s offensive zone corner.
It’s not clear what exactly ailed Barkov after the hit, but he actually appeared to trip over Montreal defenseman Ben Chiariot’s left leg as players from both clubs battled for the puck. The Panthers captain skated straight to the bench as play moved in the other direction rather than continue his shift and missed the rest of the game with what Florida deemed a lower-body injury.
Here is Barkov’s last shift during the second period. He was hit from behind by Shea Weber in the offensive zone corner and went down a little awkwardly. He got up and skated straight to the #FlaPanthers bench. pic.twitter.com/1WsEvVfntP
— David Dwork (@DavidDwork) February 1, 2020
Barkov has emerged as a full-blown superstar in Florida since the club drafted him second overall in 2013, making his health of paramount importance to a potential Panthers playoff run. While it appears the team will have to wait until Sunday to find out his status, head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after the game that the team does not believe it is serious.
The Panthers (28-17-5, 61 points) lost 4-0 to Montreal (24-22-7, 55 points) on Saturday, leaving the team six points behind second-place Tampa Bay in the Atlantic.
Barkov has 54 points in 50 games this season, trailing only linemate Jonathan Huberdeau, who sits tied with Buffalo’s Jack Eichel for eighth in the league in scoring (65 points).