No Barkov? BIG Problems. Florida Panthers Game Recap — Game 32 @ Chicago Blackhawks:

FLA: 2 | CHI: 3 FINAL

In a huge shock to Panthers fans everywhere before this game, team captain Aleksander Barkov was scratched by Head Coach Joel Quenneville due to a “Lower Body Injury”. The Panthers would be down a forward for tonight’s game, and would go with an extra defenseman which was Markus Nutivaara. Tonight was also game #1000 for Blackhawks forward, and future hall-of-famer, Patrick Kane.

The effects of not having Barkov out on the ice were apparent immediately in this game. Chicago was buzzing early on in the first period, putting very good shots on Florida netminder Chris Driedger. Chicago would eventually be rewarded for their efforts, as Dominik Kubalik would score his 11th goal of the season 6:24 into the game. Assists would be credited to Brandon Hagel (8) and Connor Murphy (6). Florida would find themselves behind the 8-ball very early on in this game. Chicago would control play through most of the first period, as it seemed that Florida just couldn’t get it together without Barkov out there. Chicago would go up 2–0 late in the first period, as Pius Suter would score his ninth of the season at 18:30. Assists on that goal would come from Nikita Zadorov (6) and Patrick Kane (31). Florida would go into the first intermission down two goals.

( Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

The second period was more domination by the Blackhawks, and Florida was really struggling to adjust without Barkov in the lineup. Owen Tippett would be called for a slashing penalty a little more than three minutes into the period, and Chicago would make them pay for it on the Power Play. Carl Soderberg would score his sixth goal of the season, with assists coming from Patrick Kane (32, second of the game) and Alex DeBrincat (16). Chicago would boast a 3–0 lead on the Panthers, who haven’t lost to Chicago in any of the 4 prior matchups this season. Florida started to get their legs under them about halfway through the game, as shortly before the halfway mark of the second period Anton Stralman would get the Panthers on the board. Stralman would score his third goal of the season on a beautiful backhand feed from Noel Acciari to bring the Panthers within two. It was Acciari’s fourth assist of the season, and Tippett would also pick up his fourth assist on Stralman’s goal. Florida started to bring the offense to Chicago, and was applying much needed pressure against the Blackhawks. They were unable to add another before the end of the second period, and would go into the third period down two goals.

(Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

Stralman scores his third of the season with assists coming from Noel Acciari (4) and Owen Tippett (4).

Chicago would do a great job of playing with the two-goal lead throughout most of the third period. Florida would out-shoot the Blackhawks 14–7 in the period, but were only able to break through Chicago goaltender Kevin Lankinen once. Nikita Zadorov would take a hooking penalty again Jonathan Huberdeau with about 5:30 to go in the game, and Florida would take a massive chance on the ensuing Power Play by pulling the goalie in favor of a 6-on-4 advantage. The decision would ultimately be a great one, as Alex Wennberg would cash in on the Power Play for his seventh goal of the season. Assists on the goal would be credited to Noel Acciari (5, second of the game) and Jonathan Huberdeau (25). Florida would pull themselves within a goal with about 4:38 remaining in the game.

(Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

Wennberg’s Power Play goal, his seventh of the season. Assists from Acciari (5) and Huberdeau (25).

Florida would attempt to pull the goalie again in favor of an extra attacker, but were unsuccessful in finding the game-tying goal. Chicago would hold off Florida to secure the 3–2 victory in regulation. Chicago would end their losing streak as they pick up their first victory against Florida this season. Coach Quenneville would state after the game “I don’t expect it to be long term” in reference to Barkov’s lower body injury. For the Panthers’ sake, it better not be. The Panthers clearly need their best player out there on the ice, because they’re a completely different team without him. Florida’s record would fall to 20–8–4, but they still hold third place in the division, and a 9 point lead over Chicago in the standings.

The Three Stars of tonight’s game were:

Florida will look to bounce-back on Thursday the 25th, as they will take on the Blackhawks again in Chicago. That game will start at 8 p.m. ET.

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Joseph London

South Florida sports fan. Mostly cover the Florida Panthers NHL team, but also scattered stories about the Dolphins, Heat, and Marlins! Thank you for reading.