Sigh of relief: Panthers star Aleksander Barkov fine after scary tumble into boards
Barkov says he “felt good” minutes after being helped off the ice during Saturday’s game
SUNRISE, Fla. – Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov hasn't missed a game in a while, and he's not about to start now.
Since being held out of the final two contests of the 2017-18 season with an upper-body injury, Barkov has played in 114 consecutive games.
It's a modest ironman streak for Florida's 24-year-old captain.
Barkov gave teammates and fans a bit of a scare Saturday night after going awkwardly into the boards, seemingly putting the healthy stretch jeopardy.
Late in the third period of Florida's 4-2 loss to Boston, Barkov was chasing down a puck in the corner when Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy's stick got tangled in Barkov's skates.
Barkov went feet first into the boards at full speed, and he remained on the ice for several minutes.
A trainer and a couple teammates helped Barkov off the ice, and he proceeded to head straight to the Panthers dressing room.
After the game, Florida head coach Joel Quenneville alleviated some stress by telling the media, "he should be fine" when asked about Barkov's injury.
That message held true on Sunday morning when Florida's top line center took the ice for the Panthers scheduled practice at the Ice Den in Coral Springs.
"I kind of hit my leg in the boards and just tried to get up after that, but I didn't feel my leg at all," Barkov said following Sunday's workout. "A minute after that I shook it off and felt good."
Through 32 games this season, the Finnish top line center has amassed 36 points (10-26-36) while averaging over 20 minutes of ice time.
Losing Barkov for any stretch could be disastrous for the Panthers, who have lost three straight games and have fallen from second place in the Atlantic Division to sixth in the span of less than a week.
"You never want to be injured," Barkov said. "You want to play and you want to help the team win."
Florida is 3-4-0 on its current season-long nine-game homestand, which continues Monday against the Ottawa Senators before concluding on Friday against Dallas.
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