The Florida Panthers won Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final, but the team has reason to worry after their captain, Aleksander Barkov, exited with an injury.
Aleksander Barkov has been a big contributor during the Florida Panthers’ 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs run. The captain has four goals and eight assists in the playoffs while also providing defense, blocking 10 shots. The Panthers are up 3-0 over the Carolina Hurricanes in a thrilling Eastern Conference Final that has seen two overtime victories and a shutout.
Monday night’s Game 3 provided reason for Panthers fans to worry. With seven minutes remaining in the first period, Sasha Barkov left the game after a check along the boards by the Canes’ Jack Drury.
It was a light hit, but something went wrong. The center never returned to the ice, missing the rest of the game. A mid-game update revealed that Barkov left the game with a lower-body injury and was questionable to return.
Will Aleksander Barkov return to the playoffs after a Game 3 injury?
After the game, head coach Paul Maurice didn’t have an update on Barkov’s status when asked. “He was at a bar mitzvah,” Maurice joked. “His neighbor had a…yeah, that’s what we’ll go with. Bar mitzvah.”
There’s no word yet if Barkov will miss Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, but if he does, it would be a huge blow to the Panthers. In addition to his stats, Barkov is known for providing steady leadership for the team. In his absence, the team stepped up and got the job done in a close game. They just need one more win to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
If they make it to the final series, the Florida Panthers might have to face either the Dallas Stars or Vegas Golden Knights without their captain. For now, the Panthers will focus on Game 4 against the Canes. Panthers fans will wait in agony for an update on Barkov.