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.
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)
- When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV: TNT
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, WPOW 95.6 FM2, WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- DraftKings odds — Panthers Favored: Money Line (-115); Puck line (-1.5, +220); Over/Under 5.5 (+105/-125). Series: Florida favored -1600.
- Series Schedule — Game 1: Florida 3, @Carolina 2; Game 2: Florida 2, @Carolina 1 (OT); Game 3: @Florida 1, Carolina 0;Game 4: Wednesday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 5*: Friday at Carolina, 8 (TNT); Game 6*: Sunday, May 28 at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 7*: Tuesday, May 30 at Carolina, 8 (TNT). *If Necessary
- Season Series: (Carolina won 2-1): @Florida 3, Carolina 0 (Nov.9);@Carolina 4, Florida 0 (Dec. 30); Carolina 6, @Florida 4 (April 13)
- All-Time Regular Season Series: Carolina/Hartford leads 71-46-10, 11 ties
- Postseason History: First Meeting
- How They Got Here — Carolina: d. New York Islanders in 6; d. New Jersey Devils in 5. Florida: d. Boston Bruins in 7; d. Toronto Maple Leafs in 5.
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