Barkov FLA GM3 playing status tune in tonight

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Aleksander Barkov practiced Wednesday and will travel with the Florida Panthers for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, TVAS, SN).

The Panthers’ top center and captain left their 4-1 win in Game 2 at Amerant Bank Arena on Monday after taking a high hit from Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl.

Florida coach Paul Maurice would not confirm whether Barkov would play Thursday. The Panthers lead the best-of-7 series 2-0 after winning the first two games at home.

“It’s the driver of my mood, right?” Maurice said. “You go through that fear maybe is the right word. Nobody wants to lose their captain and you don’t know if you have or not for a block of time and then you find out there’s a good chance you’re not going to and you’re in a much better mood.

“He got through the skate and felt better today. He got through the skate today as far as I know. I haven’t checked after. We’ll get him on a plane, get him off a plane, get him on the ice (for the morning skate) and make a decision where he’s at tomorrow. But he looked good today.”

Barkov, who has 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 19 games this postseason, is the unquestioned leader of the Panthers. He won the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL for the second time this season and has been a key part of shutting down Oilers superstar forwards Connor McDavid and Draisaitl through two games.

McDavid had one assist and three shots on goal in Game 2, and Draisaitl was held without a point on two shots. Before the Oilers lost 3-0 in Game 1 on Saturday, McDavid (31 points; five goals, 26 assists) and Draisaitl (28 points; 10 goals, 18 assists) had combined for 59 points through 18 playoff games.

The crew discuss Barkov's impact if he can return

Barkov is also a mainstay on Florida’s power play and penalty kill. He had an assist on two of three goals in Game 1.

“Nobody,’’ Maurice said, “is replacing him.”

The Panthers were traveling to Edmonton on Wednesday afternoon, and Maurice and select players are scheduled to meet with the media upon arrival.

Barkov, who did not speak after practice, will not be one of them and will continue to be evaluated.

Still, his teammates were thrilled to see him on the ice for a full workout before the flight.

“It was nice to have him out there,” Panthers forward Kyle Okposo said. “Obviously he is a huge piece of our team, if not the biggest piece.”

Should Barkov be able to play in Game 3, Florida would likely have the same lineup for the third consecutive game in the Cup Final.

“It is a good thing he is feeling better, and we are looking forward to seeing him play in the next game,” forward Eetu Luostarinen said.

Related Content