The Florida Panthers snapped their four-game losing streak in a big way Tuesday night — but their runaway 6-1 win over the New York Islanders may have come at a steep price.
Captain Sasha Barkov left the game with help from head athletic trainer Dave DiNapoli after a brutal knee-on-knee hit from Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield.
Barkov did not return to the game and his status was not immediately known.
He was spotted standing in the hallway to the Florida locker room without the use of crutches nor having anything on his knees.
Carter Verhaeghe said “we saw him in the room and it’s not that bad.”
Coach Andrew Brunette would not go that far, only saying Barkov would be evaluated in the “coming days.”
After being hit, Barkov was slow to get up and needed to be helped to the locker room cautiously not putting weight on his left leg.
Mayfield got slapped with a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct.
Losing the team’s best player for an unknown amount of time certainly cast a pall over what should have been a fun night for a Florida team which could have used one.
”That’s obviously a tough, tough guy to see go down,” Patric Hornqvist said. “He’s our leader, he’s our best player. We need him to go where we want to be. I hope he’s going to be alright. It’s hockey, things are going to happen. It’s tough to see him go down.”
After losing its past four games — the last two came either in overtime or a shootout — the Panthers hopped out of the gate as if recharged on Mountain Dew/RedBull concoction.
Barkov advanced his game scoring streak to 10 by getting the secondary assist on a pretty Anthony Duclair-to-Jonathan Huberdeau goal which got things rolling at 6:58 of the first period.
After that, the floodgates opened up all over goalie Ilya Sorokin as the Panthers put up four goals on 17 shots in the first period.
Sorokin did not return for the second.
The Islanders were playing second of a back-to-back after losing in Tampa on Monday night not to mention the finale of a 13-game road trip to start the season.
It certainly looked as such.
The Islanders did not seem to put up much of a fight after awhile.
The game remained a 1-0 affair until Ryan Lomberg scored off a rebound no one bothered to come after at 14:40 of the first.
Not long afterward, Verhaeghe also scored off a rebound by sticking with a play he started (he passed to Brandon Montour on a breakaway) and hopping on the loose puck.
With 1:47 left in the period, Hornqvist all but gave Sorokin the rest of the night off by firing an odd-angle shot along the goal line that found a spot behind the Isles’ goalie for quite a highlight goal.
Florida made it 5-0 in the second on a goal from Aaron Ekblad.
Kyle Palmieri got the Islanders goal with five minutes left in the second, but would later get hit with a cross-check before getting drilled by Radko Gudas early in the third.
Gudas and Palmieri fought, with Palmieri getting the rest of the night off as he was hit with the instigator as well as a game misconduct.
Palmieri was also in on the Barkov hit in the second period which may explain why he was so active afterward.
The scoring ended with 3:24 remaining as Frank Vatrano drove in and scored on Semyon Varlamov with Florida’s 35th shot of the night.
Sergei Bobrovsky got back in the win column after taking the past two overtime defeats, improving to 7-0-2.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE NIGHT
1. Patric Hornqvist, Florida
2. Carter Verhaeghe, Florida
3. Ryan Lomberg, Florida