Injury to Panthers captain Sasha Barkov overshadows 6-1 victory over visiting Islanders

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov is helped off the ice after a play during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SUNRISE, Fla. – The Florida Panthers picked up a resounding win on home ice Tuesday, stomping the New York Islanders 6-1 at FLA Live Arena.

The victory, which snapped a four-game winless streak, was overshadowed by the lower-body injury suffered by Panthers captain Sasha Barkov during the second period.

Barkov went down after a knee-to-knee hit by Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield.

The score was 4-0 at the time.

Video of the hit can be seen in the tweet below:

Barkov remained on the ice for several minutes before being helped to the bench. He appeared to walk to the Panthers locker room under his own power.

Mayfield was issued a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct.

“Tough guy to see go down,” Panthers winger Patric Hornqvist said after the game. “He’s our leader, he’s our best player, and we need him (healthy) to go where we want to be, so I hope he’s going to be alright.”

For their part, Florida didn’t let the negative vibes from Barkov’s injury derail their goal of picking up two points against a road weary Islanders squad.

The victory gave the Panthers an NHL-best 11-2-3 record, and it also stretched their season-opening home winning streak to eight games.

“I really liked our compete, I liked it the whole time,” said Panthers interim head coach Andrew Brunette. “They compete really hard as a group, and they’re fun to be around because they’re nonstop; compete, compete, compete.”

Coming on the heels of an 0-2-2 road trip, it was clear from the opening puck drop that the Panthers were laser focused on getting back in the win column.

It took just under seven minutes for Florida to get on the board. Jonathan Huberdeau finished off a gorgeous passing play that started in their own zone thanks to a perfect exit feed by Brandon Montour. The puck would go from Montour to Barkov to Anthony Duclair before finally reaching Huberdeau’s tape.

Goals by Ryan Lomberg, Carter Verhaeghe and Hornqvist would come over the next 11:15 of the opening frame. It was exactly the start that the Panthers needed.

“Tonight we controlled the whole game,” said Hornqvist.

Aaron Ekblad and Frank Vatrano added goals in the second and third periods, respectively.

After the game, the focus shifted right back to Florida’s injured captain.

Brunette was obviously asked about the status of Barkov. He said the team doctors didn’t give him much information after the game and that they would have a better diagnosis on Wednesday.

“They’re going to reevaluate him in the morning to see what happens tonight,” Brunette said. “I’m sure he’s going to get some X-rays and we’ll look at them and go from there.”

It makes sense that Brunette would withhold any opinions on the injury until there is some certainty into the exact diagnosis.

In terms of looking for some positive vibes in light of Barkov’s injury, those came courtesy of Verhaeghe.

Speaking after the game, Verhaeghe said he had just seen Barkov in the locker room and gave the impression that whatever the injury was, it wasn’t anything long-term.

“We saw him in the room, and it looked like it’s not that bad,” Verhaeghe said, adding that he was glad to see Barkov walking around.

Perhaps he was being overly optimistic, or maybe Brunette was just being extra-coy. The bottom line is that right now, we don’t know.

The Panthers will be back on the ice for practice Wednesday morning at FLA Live Arena, after which Brunette will have the opportunity to provide an update on Barkov’s status, if there is one.

Florida’s next game is Thursday when they host the New Jersey Devils in Sunrise.

About the Author:

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.