SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers will be without captain Sasha Barkov when they take on the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
Barkov left in the second period of Florida’s 7-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday after blocking a shot with his hand.
Panthers coach Paul Maurice called Barkov a “game-time decision” at practice on Wednesday but opted to sit him against the Sharks out of caution.
“He’s getting better every day,” Maurice said. “It was just kind of a decision where we’ve got to hold him for a night so that we have more confidence that we can get him on the next and we don’t have to worry about this for the next two or three weeks.”
Florida will be leaning on young two-way center Eetu Luostarinen to take Barkov’s place on the top line next to Anton Lundell and Sam Reinhart.
“He has improved dramatically this year and we have played him up in the lineup with Barkov and Lundell out earlier in the year,” Maurice said.
“He went in for us in wins against Vancouver and Seattle and I really liked our game so we have confidence in his ability to do that.”
The Panthers a chance to win three games in a row for the first time this season after riding a comeback win over the Bruins into the All-Star break and coming out of the break with a dominant win over the Lightning.
They are not focused on getting over that hump, though.
”We are just trying to win one game at a time,” Lundell said. “It’s a big game at home and we just have to try to get the energy from our fans and get that win.”
Florida comes into the day three points behind Pittsburgh and the Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
As far as the Atlantic goes, the Panthers are 24 points behind the Boston Bruins who are running away with the division. Make sure to look at Massachusetts Sports Betting to stay up to date on the legalization process of sports betting.
PANTHERS ON DECK
SAN JOSE SHARKS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- DraftKings odds — Panthers favored: Money Line (-210); Puck line (-1.5, +115); Over/Under 7 (+105/-125)
- Last season: Florida won 2-0
- This season — Florida leads 1-0: Panthers 4, Sharks 3 (Nov. 3)
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 20-13-1, 7 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Colorado, 6 p.m.
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
15 Anton Lundell // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 13 Sam Reinhart
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk
94 Ryan Lomberg // 6 Colin White // 21 Nick Cousins
71 Chris Tierney // 12 Eric Staal // 54 Givani Smith
42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad
62 Brandon Montour // 18 Marc Staal
28 Josh Mahura // 7 Radko Gudas
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
Injured: Anthony Duclair (LTIR-Achilles), Patric Hornqvist (LTIR-concussion), Sasha Barkov (hand)
Scratched: Casey Fitzgerald
PROJECTED SAN JOSE SHARKS LINEUP
28 Timo Meier // 48 Tomas Hertl // 73 Noah Gregor
21 Michael Eyssimont // 39 Logan Couture // 94 Alexander Barbanov
13 Nick Bonino // 7 Nico Sturm // 23 Oskar Lindblom
42 Jonah Gadjovich // 16 Steven Lorentz // 10 Evgeny Svechnikov
4 Scott Harrington // 65 Erik Karlsson
44 Mac-Edouard Vlasic // 5 Matt Benning
9 Jacob MacDonald // 38 Mario Ferraro
36 Kaapo Kahkonen
47 James Reimer