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Florida Panthers D Gus Forsling returned Tuesday night after leaving in first

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Florida Panthers defenseman Gus Forsling left Tuesday’s game after being struck on the inside of the left leg by an Erik Karlsson slap shot. He returned to action in the second. — Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

The Florida Panthers had a scare Tuesday night as it appeared one of their best defensemen may have been lost to injury when Gus Forsling left the game against the San Jose Sharks in the first period.

During the first intermission, Florida coach Andrew Brunette said his team’s training staff was working on Forsling and he hoped the defenseman would return to the game.

Forsling did indeed return to the game in the second.

Turns out Forsling ended up playing 22 shifts for 17:26 of ice time.

“Such a vital piece to our group,” Brunette said after Florida’s 3-2 overtime win. “We were really worried but once we knew it was OK, and it was nothing that threatened him — just playing through some pain — he is a gritty guy. He loves to play and loves to compete. He gave it his all tonight.“

The incident happened when Forsling, working the penalty kill early on, was struck on the inside of the left leg by a hard slapshot from Erik Karlsson.

Although Forsling stayed on the ice during the penalty kill, there was not much he could do as he struggled to stay on his feet.

Replays showed the puck appeared to strike him on the inside of the knee.

The Sharks took a 1-0 lead in the game on Logan Couture’s goal down low as Forsling was nowhere near the play.

After the goal, team medical staff came out to help Forsling get off the ice and into the Florida trainning room.

The Panthers were already thought to be looking for an extra defenseman before Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline.

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