SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers were again forced to play a man short to start a game as Matthew Tkachuk was not in the lineup Thursday against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tkachuk is thought to be ill as a number of his teammates have been of late.
Coach Paul Maurice would not confirm that his star power forward was sick but did say any player who was dealing with something would not go on Wednesday’s hospital holiday visits.
Tkachuk, who did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, did not go on the hospital visit.
This is the fifth time this season Florida has been forced to play down a player with Brandon Montour, Sasha Barkov and Anton Lundell being players missing at the start of a game.
Those absences forced the Panthers to play short because they only had 20 players on the roster due to salary cap concerns.
This time around, the Panthers have plenty of players — they’re just not all healthy.
Chris Tierney and Colin White remain on the active roster despite being ruled out for Thursday’s game with Lundell still active although he has now missed seven games.
Florida called up Aleksi Heponiemi and Grigori Denisenko from AHL Charlotte to join Matt Kiersted, Zac Dalpe and Tierney.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT NEW JERSEY DEVILS
- When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: Prudential Center, Newark
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM 2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time regular season series: Devils lead 56-33-7, 7 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Monday at Boston Bruins