COLUMBUS, Ohio — There was a scary moment for all Panthers fans early in Tuesday night’s game in Columbus as captain Sasha Barkov inadvertently collided with Boone Jenner and hit the deck.
Barkov was slow to get up, slow to skate to the bench but quick to get back out as the Blue Jackets took a penalty on that shift.
The NHL’s concussion spotter apparently pulled Barkov to the room when that power play shift was up and he did not return until there was 8:41 left in the period.
Barkov ended up playing 19:08 off 20 shifts in Florida’s 4-2 win.
So, when Barkov was not on the ice for Wednesday’s afternoon practice at Nationwide Arena, there was at least a little cause for alarm.
Relax, coach Joel Quenneville said without saying that exact word.
Barkov, he said, was simply “resting.” Quenneville did not go into it any more than that.
According to Quenneville, Barkov will be back in the lineup Thursday for Florida’s fourth game of the season against the Jackets.
The Panthers appeared to keep all of their lines the same Wednesday save for Carter Verhaeghe sliding to center Mason Marchment with Brett Connolly moving up to right wing on what would be a top line in name only.
Barkov is what makes whatever crew he is centering the Panthers’ top line.
The Panthers are looking for their third win in Columbus this season, a nice chunk of success in a place where that has rarely happened for them.
Not only was their shootout win here in January the first Florida victory at Nationwide Arena since 2015, but Tuesday’s regulation win was the team’s first since 2007.
Columbus is still trying to put its game together with coach John Tortorella unhappy with the play of Jack Roslovic on Tuesday.
Tortorella changed up all of his lines before Tuesday’s game with the Blue Jackets desperate for some wins before the trade deadline gets here next month.
Goalie Joonas Korpisalo was terrific in net against the Panthers on Tuesday but that was his eighth consecutive start with Elvis Merzlikins out with an injury.
Tortorella said he wanted to give Merzlikins one more practice after he was activated Monday so we could see him in net against Sergei Boborvsky on Thursday.
Columbus has a back-to-back set against Dallas coming up this weekend so it would make sense for Tortorella to not only get Korpisalo a little rest but to get Merzlikins some game action before the Stars come to town.
Merzlikins has also had success against the Panthers in the past.
Not only did he give up one goal and beat Florida in Bobrovsky’s return to Columbus on Dec. 31, 2019, but he shut the Panthers out in overtime a few weeks later.
In January, Merzlikins gave up two goals on 35 shots in the Jackets’ lone win against the Panthers this season.
While Korpisalo definitely deserves another crack at the Panthers on Thursday, we’ll bet Elvis gets the net.
— Quenneville said the Panthers were aiming for Anthony Duclair to return to the lineup Saturday against the Blackhawks.
Duclair took part in the full practice on Wednesday.
— Florida won 60 percent of its faceoffs Tuesday and Alex Wennberg was a huge reason why.
Wennberg won 12 of his 13 drops on Tuesday and raised his season success rate to 48.8 percent which currently stands as a career high.
Florida Panthers at Columbus Blue Jackets
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus
- TV/Radio: FSF/560-AM
- Records (standings): Florida 16-5-4, 36 points (3rd in Central); Columbus 10-12-5, 25 points (5th)
- All-time series: Columbus leads 24-9-3
- Season series: Florida leads 2-1
- Last season: Columbus won two of three
- Up next: Florida at Detroit, Saturday, 7 p.m.; Columbus at Chicago, Friday, 8 p.m.
- Previous game: Panthers 4, Blue Jackets 2
- Panthers This Week — Tuesday: Florida 4, Columbus 2; Thursday: Florida at Columbus, 7; Saturday: Chicago at Florida, 7.
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINES
19 Mason Marchment — 16 Sasha Barkov — 23 Carter Verhaeghe
11 Jonathan Huberdeau — 21 Alex Wennberg — 70 Patric Hornqvist
77 Frank Vatrano — 27 Eetu Luostarinen — 74 Owen Tippett
94 Ryan Lomberg — 83 Juho Lammikko — 55 Noel Acciari
52 MacKenzie Weegar — 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gustav Forsling — 7 Radko Gudas
3 Keith Yandle — 65 Markus Nutivaara
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
60 Chris Driedger
Scratches: D Riley Stillman, F Vinnie Hinostroza
Injured: F Anthony Duclair (lower body), D Noah Juulsen (upper body), D Anton Stralman (lower body)
Taxi squad: D Kevin Connauton, F Grigori Denisenko, F Brett Connolly, G Philippe Desrosiers
Florida power play (20/77 26% — 9th in NHL)
Florida penalty kill (57/73 78.1% — 18th in NHL)
PP1: Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Patric Hornqvist, Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle
PP2: Alex Wennberg, Frank Vatrano, Mason Marchment, Carter Verhaeghe, Gustav Forsling
PROJECTED COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS LINES
28 Oliver Bjorkstrand — 20 Riley Nash — 29 Patrik Laine
71 Nick Foligno — 38 Boone Jenner — 13 Cam Atkinson
50 Eric Robinson — 42 Alexandre Texier — 11 Kevin Stenlund
16 Max Domi — 96 Jack Roslovic — 52 Emil Bemstrom
8 Zach Werenski — 3 Seth Jones
53 Gabriel Carlsson — 58 David Savard
44 Vladislav Gavrikov — 15 Michael Del Zotto
90 Elvis Merzlikins
70 Joonas Korpisalo
Columbus power play (11/71 15.5% — 25th in NHL)
Columbus penalty kill (48/66 72.7% — 27th in NHL)
PP1: Nick Foligno, Jack Roslovic, Cam Atkinson, Patrik Laine, Zach Werenski
PP2: Boone Jenner, Kevin Stenlund, Max Domi, Seth Jones, Oliver Bjorkstrand