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Too Soon? Sam Bennett Leaves Florida Panthers Practice Early



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Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett, pictured here during the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs, left Friday’s practice early after returning from a lower body injury the day before. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

SUNRISE — The good news for the Florida Panthers on Friday was that captain Sasha Barkov returned to practice.

The bad news was that second-line center Sam Bennett left early.

Bennett, recovering from a lower body injury sustained Oct. 5 in Tampa, returned on Thursday and went through the entire practice.

Friday was a different deal.

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Florida coach Paul Maurice said Bennett would skate Saturday morning and would be a game-time decision for that night’s game against the Seattle Kraken.

“He went yesterday and we weren’t 100 percent sure he would skate today,” Maurice said. “He couldn’t get it loosened up.”

As for Barkov, Maurice said he was sapped of injury due to an illness which has been going through the locker room.

Barkov missed Tuesday’s 3-1 win over San Jose as well as Thursday’s practice.

“You never want to miss games but sometimes, you have to take care of things and get better,” Barkov said. “We obviously have a deep team and that makes things easier. … I have played hockey for a long time so I don’t think I will lose everything in a couple of days. But, yeah, it was great being back with the guys.”


Dmitry Kulikov missed his second consecutive practice Friday with an illness.

If he was not able to go Saturday, Mike Reilly would play in his first game with the Panthers.

— Rookie Mackie Samoskevich has been sent back to AHL Charlotte with injured forward Jonah Gadjovich taking his temporary stall at the far end of the Florida room.

Charlotte is home tonight against the Bridgeport Islanders.

Sergei Bobrovsky will be back in net for the Panthers on Saturday night.

— With Bennett out, Eetu Luostarinen returned to centering the second line between Carter Verhaeghe and Matthew Tkachuk.



  • When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
  • Radio: WAXY 790-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL App
  • This Season: @ Florida, Saturday; @ Seattle, Dec. 12
  • Last season: Tied 1-1
  • All-time regular season series: Seattle leads 3-1-0
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Monday at Boston, 7

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