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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Sasha Barkov Looked Just Fine, Comes Up Big for Florida Panthers Again



Florida Panthers captain Sasha Barkov speaks to the media following Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final in Edmonton on Thursday night. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

Sasha Barkov was knocked out of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night with a suspected concussion.

A cloud hovered over what should have been a night of celebration for the Florida Panthers.

That’s how much this guy means to his team.

Coach Paul Maurice was in a much better mood 12 hours later when it looked like Barkov was OK — and almost giddy when Barkov practiced with the Panthers on Wednesday morning.

Thursday night in Edmonton, Barkov was doing Barkov-like things for the Panthers once again.

“There are no words to describe him,’’ Evan Rodrigues said following Florida’s 4-3 win over the Oilers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

“He means everything to our team. He is elite offensively, elite defensively; came up with a huge block at the end. He is incredible. Just a pure, good down-to-earth human. Love the guy.’’

Rodrigues is not alone.

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“He’s our leader. He’s our captain and he plays the game the right way,’’ Sam Bennett said. “It’s pretty special to see a guy so committed, as gifted as he is offensively, he’s so committed to playing defense and shutting guys down, blocking shots. When you have your all-star captain playing that way, it carries on to every single guy in the locker room. So, yeah, he means a lot to this team, to say the least.”

Said Matthew Tkachuk: “He means everything to us. Such a great competitor. Going down late in Game 2, a one-goal game, you never want to see that. But it was great to see him skating with us today ready to go tonight. I thought he was so good. Again, like he has been all playoffs and all year.

The Panthers are now a win away from winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in the franchise’s 30th season.

If Florida wins Saturday night, it will become the first team to win the Cup in a sweep since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings.

Pretty good company right there.

“It’s there for us but you don’t think about it,’’ Barkov said. “You can’t think about it. All you have to do is take one moment at a time. Right now we have to enjoy this win. We battled really hard today and we had a good win and we’ll just enjoy this. Tomorrow we need to recover and get ready for the game. That’s about it. We never think too much ahead.”

Barkov did not have much to say about the hit from Leon Draisaitl in the third period of Game 2, the one which sent him to the room and into concussion protocol.

The Panthers took Tuesday off with Maurice saying his captain was feeling better and, when Florida practiced Wednesday before its flight to Edmonton, Barkov was one of the first players out there.

“Don’t know what to say. It was in the previous game,’’ Barkov said. “We played one game after that and it was today and I was in the game. I felt good, I’m happy to be back.”

So, too, were the Panthers.

Barkov’s tremendous defensive acumen led to Florida’s first goal in a 4-on-4 situation when he stripped Evan Bouchard of the puck at the top of the Edmonton offensive zone and headed up ice.

He sent the puck to Gus Forsling, who found Sam Reinhart driving to the net.

In the second, Barkov put the Panthers up 4-1 — his fourth game-winning goal of these playoffs.

Barkov played 20 minutes on 28 shifts, ended with two points and won 64 percent of his faceoffs.

He also forced a pair of turnovers, including the one which got that first goal going.

Not too shabby.

“Our guys did a good job,’’ Barkov said. “I was ready to go. Happy to be back. Even those few minutes, I felt like I missed a lot. A great win today. Everyone battled.”

For More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

Panthers Lead Best of 7 Series 3-0
  • When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Rogers Place; Edmonton, Alberta
  • National TV: ABC
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Series Schedule, All Games 8 p.m. on ABC — Game 1: @Florida 3, Edmonton 0; Game 2: @Florida 4, Edmonton 1; Game 3: Florida 4, @Edmonton 3; Game 4: Florida at Edmonton, Saturday; Game 5*: Edmonton at Florida, Tuesday; Game 6*: Florida at Edmonton, Friday June 21; Game 7*:Edmonton at Florida, Monday June 24. (*) – If Necessary
  • How They Got Here — Florida: d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2, New York Rangers 4-2; Edmonton: d. Los Angeles 4-1, Vancouver 4-3, Dallas 4-2.
  • This Season (Florida Won 2-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Oilers 3 (Nov. 20). At Edmonton: Panthers 5, Oilers 2 (Dec. 17).
  • Last Season: Edmonton Won 2-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Oilers lead 23-16-0, 3 ties
  • Postseason History: First Meeting

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