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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Sasha Barkov Could Return to Florida Panthers in Game 4

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Florida Panthers captain Sasha Barkov celebrates his goal in Game 6 against the host Washington Capitals on May 13. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers could have captain Sasha Barkov back in the lineup Wednesday night as they attempt to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1996.

Barkov left Game 3 with an apparent leg/knee injury after being driven up against the wall by Carolina’s Jack Drury with 7:04 remaining in the first period.

He did not return for the remainder of the game, a 1-0 win for the Panthers which gave them a commanding 3-0 series lead.

The Panthers go for the sweep on Wednesday at 8 (TNT).

”It is good news because it was as much precautionary as anything sinister,’’ said coach Paul Maurice, who gave no update on Barkov following Game 3, instead joking he left early to attend a bar mitzvah in his neighborhood.

”We are optimistic that he can return soon and when he does, he’ll be ready to go. We’ll wait until tomorrow to see how he’s feeling, if he is following down the same path. We’re optimistic we could see him in Game 4.”

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With Barkov out of the lineup, Florida moved some things around with Eetu Luostarinen again sliding up from the third line to centering Carter Verhaeghe and Anthony Duclair.

With Barkov and/or Sam Bennett out at times this season, Maurice said the adjustment was something the Panthers were used to anyway.

“Sam Bennett had been out of our lineup for such a long time so we have been doing this,” Maurice said. “Luostarinen comes up into the middle, Staal goes up and Lundell goes to the wing. Those were the two changes we made in the past, sp when Luostarinen went to middle and looked OK, we just left it.

”There are some advantages to going through the adversities we did throughout the season and it was not that big a change. OK, it is; Barkov is out of your lineup. But you don’t make a big deal about it on your bench and there is nothing you can do about it. You still have to win this game. It was not that seismic at the time. We had done it before.”

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
CAROLINA HURRICANES (MET1) AT PANTHERS (WC2) 
GAME 4 (Panthers Lead 3-0)

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