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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Sasha Barkov Returns To Florida Panthers Lineup for Game 4

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Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) is congratulated by center Colin White (6) after scoring his third goal for a hat trick during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SUNRISE — Sasha Barkov will return to the Florida Panthers lineup for a potentially series-clinching Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final against the Carolina Hurricanes.

”He’s ready to roll,” coach Paul Maurice said. “He’s the freshest guy on the ice.”

Barkov left Florida’s Game 3 win with 7:04 to go in the first period after taking a hit from Carolina forward Jack Drury.

He was ruled questionable to return with a lower-body injury, per Panthers PR, but did not return as his teammates held off the Hurricanes in a 1-0 victory.

He leads all Panthers skaters in goals (2) and points (3) through three low-scoring Eastern Conference final games.

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That includes a highlight reel goal which even left Wayne Gretzky, The Great One in awe.

”Well, you have a TV, so you’ve seen from a distance all of the things he can do,” Maurice said.

”He has the size, really fine hands and the ability to make plays. He is just a very powerful man. Whether it’s an explosion into holes, a puck that gets off his stick hard and we’ve also seen some pretty nice physicality in the playoffs this year.”

Florida is one win away from clinching its first Stanley Cup Final berth since 1996 but they are not letting that — or the excitement of Barkov’s return — distract them from the task at hand.

”For us it’s about keeping the same mentality,” Anthony Duclair said.

”We have been saying it since the playoffs started, but its right. We want to continue playing hard defensively and not giving those top guys much space when we are out there. We just want to continue making them frustrated offensively and then, when we get a chance offensively, try to capitalize on every opportunity we can.”

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

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

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair

21 Nick Cousins // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

27 Eetu Luostarinen // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart

94 Ryan Lomberg // 12 Eric Staal // 6 Colin White

42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad

18 Marc Staal // 62 Brandon Montour

28 Josh Mahura // 7 Radko Gudas

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

34 Alex Lyon

Scratched: Mike Benning, Zac Dalpe, Evan Fitzpatrick, Givani Smith, Casey Fitzgerald, Lucas Carlsson, Connor Bunnaman, Grigori Denisenko, Patrick Giles, Mack Guzda, Aleksi Heponiemi, Matt Kiersted, Santtu Kinnunen, John Ludvig, Mackie Samsoskevich, Calle Sjalin

Injured: Patric Hornqvist (LTIR-concussion)

PROJECTED CAROLINA HURRICANES LINEUP

23 Stefan Noesen // 20 Sebastian Aho // 24 Seth Jarvis

48 Jordan Martinook // 82 Jesperi Kotkaniemi // 71 Jesper Fast

86 Teuvo Teravainen // 11 Jordan Staal // 88 Martin Necas

18 Jack Drury // 26 Paul Stastny // 21 Derek Stepan

74 Jaccob Slavin // 8 Brent Burns

76 Brady Skjei // 22 Brett Pesce

41 Shayne Gostisbehere // 5 Jalen Chatfield

31 Frederik Andersen

32 Antti Raanta

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