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Panthers without captain Sasha Barkov due to lower-body injury in Chicago

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Florida Panthers captain Sasha Barkov is pictured before a game in Columbus earlier this month. Barkov missed his first game of the 2021 season Tuesday as he left warmups early with a lower body injury. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

The Florida Panthers were without star center Sasha Barkov for the first time this season after he left warmups with what the team said was a lower-body injury before their game against the host Chicago Blackhawks.

Barkov was one of the big performers in Florida’s four wins over Chicago coming into Tuesday with three goals and nine points.

On Tuesday, Noel Acciari moved up from the fourth line to center Anthony Duclair and Carter Verhaeghe in Barkov’s absence.

The Panthers made a surprising roster move before Tuesday’s game, moving third-line center Eetu Luostarinen back to the taxi squad and moving Brett Connolly up to the active roster.

Connolly, by all accounts, has not been thrilled about being not only out of the lineup but being placed on the taxi squad since the end of February.

Coming into the night, Connolly — who had 19 goals last season but only four from Jan. 1 on — had one goal and three points in 16 games.

Florida scratched Ryan Lomberg Tuesday with former Blackhawks forward (and Chicagoland native) Vinnie Hinostroza getting in for the first time in nine games.

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