Aleksander Barkov leaves game with lower-body injury

The Florida Panthers' Aleksander Barkov looks on during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. The Panthers won, 5-2. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS)

This is not news that the Florida Panthers wanted to be delivering as they try to strengthen their tenuous grasp on a playoff spot. Team captain Aleksander Barkov left Saturday afternoon’s game against the Montreal Canadiens early, and did not return.

Barkov is second on the Panthers in scoring, notching 16 goals and 54 points in 49 games. He leads all forwards on the team in ice time with 19:57 per game.

The Panthers currently sit third in the Atlantic division with 61 points — boasting the same total as the Toronto Maple Leafs, who occupy the second wild card spot, as well as the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers. The Panthers can ill afford to lose their most relied-upon forward in the middle of such a log jam in the standings heading into a crucial section of the schedule.

To make matters worse, the Panthers were trailing 2-0 at the time of Barkov’s most recent shift, and immediately fell behind 4-0 in the 3rd period.

More on Barkov’s status to come as we are updated.

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