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Aleksander Barkov injury update: What is the Game 3 status of the Florida Panthers captain?

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Florida Panthers could be without captain Aleksander Barkov in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

In their 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night, Barkov took a hit to the head from Leon Draisaitl that knocked him out of the game with 9:28 to go in the third period. Head coach Paul Maurice did not provide a concrete update on him postgame and his status is still in question.

“He came in today and he wasn’t worse, so that’s a really good thing,” Maurice said during his media availability on Tuesday. “The real assessment should be tomorrow. If he continues to progress, he should be in good shape.”

When pressed on whether or not Barkov would be good to go for Game 3 or join the team for the flight out to Edmonton on Wednesday, Maurice did not have a concrete answer.

“We had some things to get looked at today, they got that and there’s nothing sinister there,” Maurice said. “But you have to give it another 24 hours to make sure he’s feeling strong and effective. If he continues to progress, he’ll be a player for us.”

Maurice, and other Panthers players, did not give answers on whether or not they thought Draisaitl’s hit on Barkov was dirty.

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Jun 10, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov (16) leaves the ice holding his jaw during the third period against the Edmonton Oilers in game two of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 10, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov (16) leaves the ice holding his jaw during the third period against the Edmonton Oilers in game two of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

If Barkov cannot play, the Panthers would be without the player some say is one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL. Wayne Gretzky said it himself, calling him the best defensive forward he has seen since Bryan Trottier.

The good news is that the Panthers hold a 2-0 series lead over Edmonton. The bad news is that it swings the door wide open for the potent Oilers offense to attack after being held to just one high-danger chance in Game 2.

Barkov is just as excellent offensively, too. He had 23 goals and 80 points in 73 games during the regular season and currently has six goals and 19 points through 19 games in the postseason.

Young Anton Lundell could step up if needed

Florida Panthers center Anton Lundell (15) reacts with Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) after scoring a goal during the second period in game six of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.
Florida Panthers center Anton Lundell (15) reacts with Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) after scoring a goal during the second period in game six of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

Young Florida center Anton Lundell could step up and play a key role in Barkov’s absence. He’s done it before, and people call him “Baby Barky” down here for a reason.

The 21-year-old Finn has three goals and 14 points in 19 games this postseason. He also plays high quality defense in his own end of the ice, prompting the nickname.

Lundell shined in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, picking up two primary assists to help the Panthers past the Oilers. He also stepped up in big moments defensively with Barkov missing late in the third period.

“He is just a big game player,” Evan Rodrigues said. “He loves the challenge, loves the moment. I think he elevated his game in the playoffs because he relishes the challenges that come with a harder game, more meaningful games. I really like what I have seen from him these playoffs.”

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Aleksander Barkov's injury status for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final