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Barkov Feeling Good After Return to Panthers Lineup



Florida panthers
Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov warms up before the start of an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

SUNRISE — It took Florida Panthers captain Sasha Barkov all of 27 seconds to let everyone know he was back in the lineup.

Right off the opening face-off, Barkov and his line hounded the Boston Bruins until the captain fired a shot with a shot that bounced right to Evan Rodrigues with a wide-open net in front of him.

Rodrigues put the Panthers ahead with a poke and the building kept on rocking from there.

“It’s nice, of course,” Barkov said. “But I think the guys in the medical room got me ready for this game, so I appreciate that. I feel pretty good physically.”

Barkov missed the previous three games with a lingering lower-body injury that he had been playing through.

After a four-day block of off days, the Panthers saw their captain progress enough that they saw it would be beneficial to sit him out to get him closer to 100 percent.

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“I think this was perfect timing with the four days off we had,” Barkov said. “Obviously, we don’t want to miss ay games, but it’s better if you have some time to take care of that. We have a really deep team here, so thankfully, I had some time to get healthier.”

Barkov watched as his team went 1-1-1 without him, which was tough considering the team’s current state.

They are competing for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, and sitting two points behind the Boston Bruins with a game in hand, every game is important.

“Yeah,” Barkov said, when asked if it was hard watching his team through that stretch.

“Like I said, I want to play, I don’t want to miss any games, but when there’s something you need to take care of and all of the parties agree, then you need to do that and we have a deep team, really good players here, so I had my time to take care of it.”

That task only gets harder now after the Panthers fell 4-3 after blowing three leads to the Bruins on Tuesday.

Florida is 1-4-1 in its past six games since losing Aaron Ekblad to an injury on March 9.

Multiple other players, including Barkov, missed games during that stretch.

“We were ready to play, we come out hard in the first, we had a good first period but then they had their momentum and we definitely learned form it,” Barkov said.

“We want to play as good as possible the whole 60 minutes but when there’s a good team against us, they’re gonna have that momentum and they are going to play well as well. So you just need to manage that and play a little better next game.”



  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports SUN, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Last Season: Florida won 2-1
  • This Season (Series Tied 1-1) — At Florida: Islanders 4, Panthers 3 (Dec. 2); Thursday. At Islanders: Panthers 3, Islanders 2 OT (Jan 27).
  • All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 57-33-11, 8 ties
  • Next Up for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Detroit, 12:30 p.m.

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